1. says

    New thread in the new year! Thanks to Lynna for all the hard work!

    A few related podcast episodes:

    Decoding the Gurus – “Robert Malone & Peter McCullough: A litany of untruths”:

    Matt and Chris return to the Joe Rogan-verse much quicker than they would have liked to take a critical eye to two recent episodes (6 more hours!!!) offering controversial takes on Covid 19 and the dangers of vaccines. Yes, that’s right more fear mongering, more global conspiracies, and more unrecognised heroes of science that Joe needs to promote to his large audience.In this case, we have Dr. Robert Malone, the *self-proclaimed* inventor of mRNA vaccines, and Dr. Peter McCullough, a cardiologist who was recently sued by his old hospital for using its name when promoting his covid theories. Both figures are well documented promoters of covid misinformation, including in various appearances on extreme right wing conspiracy sites like Alex Jones’ InfoWars. Matt and Chris are no medical experts nor do they play them on podcasts (if you are looking for a point by point technical/medical debunking, we would recommend following the links at the bottom of these show notes). But what they are very familiar with are modern gurus and conspiracy theorists. So in this episode, after twenty plus episodes of calibrating the Gurometer(TM) with known gurus, they take it for a new test with these two maverick doctors. Applying the well-developed science of Gurometry(TM) to a novel dataset. How do they fare? Guess…Honestly, this is probably the darkest and most depressing episode we’ve done. It was not fun and we would really prefer to be talking about something else but here we are. Hopefully we will not be back soon…

    (It’s so, so bad that millions of people are listening to this.)

    Straight White American Jesus – “Weekly Round Up: J6 Past, Present, Future”:

    Brad and Dan begin this J6 anniversary episode by zooming in on certain religious elements manifest at the Insurrection. Dan decodes the various Braveheart references and signs on display, connecting them to a form of Christian nationalist masculinity via work by Kristin Kobes du Mez. Brad talks about how and why the rioters prayed as they crossed every boundary and threshold of the Capitol. It was a way of transforming the space into theirs and transforming them from criminals to God’s warriors. They then discuss what has happened in the year since–pointing to stats of how many Republicans and Evangelicals believe the 2020 election was stolen. This give’s Dan a chance to explain what people are really saying when they repeat the mantra, “Don’t make it political.” The last segment is on what happened on the one-year anniversary of the Insurrection. Brad and Dan analyze reactions from political leaders, religious leaders, and Trump admin figures, showing how the myth of the Big Lie took root and blinded Americans en masse.

    Conspirituality – “86: Charles Eisenstein, New Age Q”:

    Up to this point, we’ve understood Charles Eisenstein as the poet-philosopher of conspirituality, lending his Burning Man ritual workshop chops to the antivax faux-freedom movement. Out of deference to his apparent sensitivity and respectable writing skills, we’ve given him the benefit of the doubt—we even invited him on this show for two episodes to see whether we could find common ground. We didn’t. In our last Bonus episode, Julian tracked how Eisenstein has accelerated and intensified his rhetoric. Today, we’ll see how he’s fortifying his money networks, and starting to say the quiet parts out loud. He’s no longer “just” dog-whistling violence and QAnon. We’re reviewing a recent video he’s co-produced with Onnit multimillionaire and Austin bro-poet Aubrey Marcus. It’s an anime rendition of the ending of his 2013 bestseller, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible. In the book, Eisenstein presents “The Gathering of the Tribe” as a kind of personal mythology. As he levels up to the big leagues, this story about belonging to a group of blessed alien shamans sent to wake up humanity carries clear real-world literalness—and a culty vibe. If the high-end video doesn’t convince you, a tape from a hipster New Year’s Eve party in Ithaca NY might do the trick. As he holds guru-court for All the Big Questions, Eisenstein tells an Iraq vet that he has special gifts to deploy against the (fictional) building of COVID concentration camps in Rhode Island. Then he says he hopes the “pedophile elite” will just stop. Sound familiar? Eisenstein’s content is poetic and vague. Its implications are plausibly deniable. It pours out through an endless stream of radiant and inscrutable essay drops. He has mastered the cryptic prompt that either speaks to your soul, to your appetite for disrupting public health, or to your recent tactical training regimen. Who can really tell? His skill is to stand beside and above it all. He can avoid being pinned down. It’s almost as if he’s not really there, but only reflecting the zeitgeist of our broken moment. It’s time to just name him for what he is: New Age Q.

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    Lychee genome tells a colorful story about a colorful tropical fruit

    The research shows that the lychee tree, Litchi chinensis, was likely domesticated more than once: Wild lychees originated in Yunnan in southwestern China, spread east and south to Hainan Island, and then were domesticated independently in each of these two locations, the analysis suggests.
    In Yunnan, people began cultivating very early-flowering varieties, and in Hainan, late-blooming varieties that bear fruit later in the year. Eventually, interbreeding between cultivars from these two regions led to hybrids, including varieties, like ‘Feizixiao’, that remain extremely popular today.

  3. StevoR says

    Not sure how bad it is but breaking news – already 2 hour old mind :

    & also here via Aussie ABC :

    & BBC :

    Excerpt :

    Tsunami waves caused by a giant underwater volcanic eruption have hit the Pacific country of Tonga.

    Social media footage showed water washing through a church and several homes, and witnesses said ash was falling over the capital, Nuku’alofa. A tsunami warning sent residents scrambling to higher ground. The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai volcano sent shockwaves across the South Pacific. Tonga’s capital lies just 65km north of the volcano.

  4. Reginald Selkirk says

    Another reason for douchebros to get vaccinated and wear masks:

    US fugitive who faked death found alive in Glasgow

    An American fugitive believed to have faked his own death is facing extradition after being arrested in hospital in Glasgow.
    Nicholas Rossi, 34, was wanted by Interpol and faces a charge of rape in Utah in the United States.
    He was admitted to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in December with Covid-19 – where he used the alias Arthur Knight.

  5. says

    Guardian – “Runners across island of Ireland pause in memory of Ashling Murphy”:

    Runners across the island of Ireland paused in memory of 23-year-old Ashling Murphy on Saturday, with further vigils organised following the murder of the teacher.

    Irish police are continuing to hunt for the killer of Murphy, who was found dead after going for a run on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore, County Offaly.

    The Garda said it had made “significant progress” in its investigation amid reports detectives had identified a person of interest.

    Gardai said they were not releasing details for operational reasons.

    Park Run runners in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and beyond held moments of silence on Saturday morning for Murphy.

    Hundreds of people also gathered in Cork on Saturday morning for a vigil, with more planned in towns and villages across the weekend.

    A vigil will also be held in London on Saturday afternoon.

    Thousands of people gathered in the late afternoon in Tullamore, Dublin and Belfast on Friday, as Ireland continues to reel from the murder of Murphy, with echoes of the national reckoning that was sparked in the UK last year by the murder of Sarah Everard.

    Events also took place in Belfast, Dublin and other towns and cities across the island of Ireland on Friday.

    The taoiseach, Micheál Martin, has said that the murder has “united the nation in solidarity and revulsion”.

    “No stone will be left unturned in terms of bringing this investigation to a completion and to bring the person responsible for this to justice,” he said on Friday.

    Michelle O’Neill, Stormont’s deputy first minister, said at the vigil in Belfast: “I think the sheer fact that, right across every town, village and county across this island today people are gathering in large numbers to remember Ashling Murphy shows that women have had enough. We are entitled to feel safe, we are entitled to be safe. We are entitled to go for a run. We are entitled to go to work and feel safe, we are entitled to go to the shops and feel safe. I think this is a watershed moment in our society today.”

    The death of Murphy has sparked fresh debate about the safety of women in Ireland, with many asking how such an attack could happen in broad daylight.

    “We, as a society, need to face up to this. There is an epidemic of violence against women. It’s been going on for millennia, quite frankly,” Leo Varadkar, the deputy prime minister, said on Friday.

  6. says

    Hello, Everyone. For the convenience of readers, here are some links back to the previous chapter of this thread. These links are kind of random. Scroll around there to look for more news that may interest you.

    Fox has been selling viewers a non-violent, non-serious Jan. 6, but that sales job is getting harder.

    Followup to comment 3 by Reginald, above.
    Good news: Ohio court nukes GOP House map: ‘When the dealer stacks the deck in advance, the house usually wins’

    ‘Pharma Bro’ Shkreli ordered to pay nearly $65 million, banned for life from pharmaceutical industry

    Alabama coal miners

    Infrastructure actually being repaired!

    SC @2, Thank you as well!

  7. says

    When Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced in March last year that he would be sending hundreds of Texas National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, he spurred a wave of posturing from Republican governors over “securing” the border. Following Texas’ lead, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sent Florida state law enforcement officers and National Guard troops to Texas. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem sent her state’s troops as well — funded by a Tennessee auto scrap billionaire.

    State police deployed in conjunction with the troops have stuffed Texas jails full of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers facing misdemeanor trespassing charges.

    Over time, though, the media attention faded. The politics grew less potent. But Texas’ troops are still there. And things are getting bleak. […]

    Abbott wasn’t shy about the politics of his decision to militarize Texas’ border. The “crisis” at the border, he said upon announcing the program, “continues to escalate because of Biden Administration policies that refuse to secure the border and invite illegal immigration.”

    But that’s opened the governor up to accusations that he’s torn up the lives of thousands of guardsmen and women in an attempt to bolster his conservative credentials — particularly with a potentially tough primary election against former Rep. Allen West, who’s also the former Texas GOP chair, coming up in just a few weeks.

    On Tuesday, Abbott said his critics were the ones “playing politics.”

    […] the tide changed dramatically last month with an investigation from the Army Times.

    The investigation revealed that four soldiers tied to Operation Lonestar had taken their lives in the prior two months, including one soldier whose hardship release request was denied within days of him taking his own life.

    On top of the spate of suicides — there’s been another death and suicide attempt in the weeks since — the Army Times investigation, from reporter Davis Winkie, shined a light on what Winkie called a “morale crisis” among soldiers deployed with the operation.

    Operation Lonestar began as a volunteer operation, but in September and October, the governor involuntarily activated around 4,000 troops, the Army Times reported, and brought the total number of Texas Military Department personnel at the border to 6,500.

    The massive, mandatory movement of troops has led to problems, including extremely short notice before indefinite deployments, “numerous” pay issues like late and missing paychecks. A recent morale survey acknowledged the “austere environment” where troops are being forced to live — read: super-cramped bunks and reports of inadequate supplies.

    Around the same time as the involuntary deployments, the Texas Guard slashed its tuition assistance program by roughly half — rubbing salt on the wound as the state spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the border deployment.

    As Operation Lonestar’s troubles come increasingly into public light, its participants are finding their voices as well, and it’s not pretty. […] “Our entire unit has caught covid,” one post Thursday read. […]

    All of Texas’ Democratic congressional delegation on Thursday called for an inspector general’s investigation of the mission. And U.S. Northern Command, which runs a separate federal mission at the border, is pursuing its own investigation.[…]

    Then, on Thursday, a state judge in Austin dealt a blow to the operation’s legal premise, saying that the misdemeanor trespassing arrest of an Ecuadorian asylum seeker, Jesús Guzmán Curipoma, was unconstitutional. Guzman Curipoma’s attorneys had argued that the state operation violated the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause — the federal government enforces immigration laws — and said afterward that the ruling “sets a clear pathway for everybody arrested under Operation Lone Star to challenge their arrests.” […]

    Abbott’s deployment of the Texas National Guard to the border is a disaster.

  8. says

    CNN – “DirecTV to sever ties with OAN and drop the right-wing conspiracy channel later this year”:

    One America News, the right-wing conspiracy channel favored by former President Donald Trump, will be dropped later this year by DirecTV, a spokesperson for the television carrier said Friday evening.

    The move will deal a significant blow to the fringe outlet. Not only will OAN be removed from the millions of households that use DirecTV as a television provider, it will also suffer a major hit to its revenue.

    It is unknown what proportion of the channel’s revenue currently comes from DirecTV or how many households it will reach once DirecTV stops carrying it. But the network’s website only lists a few other national carriers, Verizon FiOS most prominently among them.

    In a statement, a DirecTV spokesperson told CNN, “We informed Herring Networks that, following a routine internal review, we do not plan to enter into a new contract when our current agreement expires.”

    Bloomberg News, which broke the story, reported that the contract expires in early April. A person familiar with the matter confirmed that date to CNN.

    Through the years, OAN has promoted conspiracy theories and outright lies on a number of issues, including the results of the 2020 presidential election and the coronavirus pandemic. Trump favored the network because it was willing to advance his lies.

    The move by DirecTV to sever ties comes amid a nationwide reckoning about the proliferation of misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy theories.

    The decision also comes after significant controversy following Reuters’s story, which reported that AT&T played a key role in OAN’s founding….

  9. says

    Wisconsin lawmaker says mitigating COVID-19 is impossible—for the most ridiculous reason yet

    […] As for the vaccine—I got all my shots. But, sadly, there’s no immunity—artificial or otherwise—against the goofball gormlessness of the Republican Party.

    Yes, the party that rallied over the sacred right of Christian bakers to keep their bigotry alive and well is now poised to tell the state’s thousands of other business owners that they have no right to extend that same courtesy to their employees and customers. Because the baby Jesus cries whenever a gay couple carbo-loads on wedding cake, but the sound of thousands of unvaxxed fools gasping for air like beached carp is as soothing as an Irish lullaby.

    The cheese-besotted chodes in the Wisconsin Republican Party are currently floating a bill that would ban state businesses from requiring their customers to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19. Because, you know, they’re so pro-life.

    If these shambolic future corpses can’t get their giant muffin at Perkins without proving they’re not billowing viral flesh-bags, why the fuck did we even bother to invade Iraq to protect our freedoms?

    But why even worry about the virus? After all, it’s invisible! Here’s state Rep. Treig Pronschinske […] arguing that there’s no point in trying to stop the virus because, well, you can’t see it. And yet somehow the GOP’s invisible god is going to protect them from the grisliest possible outcomes. [video is available at the link]

    PRONSCHINSKE: “So you ask what are we going to do to stop the spread of the pandemic, and, you know, you can’t see the virus. You can’t see anything. How are you going do it? How can you stop it? How? You physically cannot see the virus. You don’t know if it’s in this room or it’s outside or if it even exists right now in here. You have no clue. How are you going to stop that?”

    Oh, dear God, take me now. But don’t smite me with COVID-19. I don’t want to be in the same waiting room as these pestilent [doofuses].

    Granted, the omicron variant has changed the game somewhat as breakthrough infections are on the rise, even among the boosted. But that doesn’t mean the vaccinated have the same chance of catching and spreading omicron as the unvaxxed. They don’t. Also, maybe some business owners want to be real Christians by encouraging their customers to take lifesaving measures against a deadly pathogen. Seems like a worthier endeavor than trying to turn gay people straight by denying them pastries. […]

    Of course, Pronschinske doesn’t see it that way. To him, the current moment evokes the brutal struggles of the civil rights era, when Black people were discriminated against for being Black—not, to be clear, because they didn’t feel like taking an extra trip to Walgreens. […]

    “That’s a concern, looking at that side of businesses being able to make a choice,” Pronschinske said. “But when we look at grocery stores or medical facilities, these are essential things that people need to, you know, go into and it would be horrible if, say, all grocery stores would say you have to be vaccinated.”

    Would it be horrible, though? Is it any more horrible than telling people with syphilis to stay out of the red-light district until their antibiotic regimen is completed? […]

    More at the link, including a vintage photo in which an entire conservative family is wearing masks, with the caption, “HOMOSEXUAL DISEASES THREATEN AMERICAN FAMILIES.”

  10. tomh says

    A Wisconsin judge suddenly discovers that, despite years of use, ballot drop boxes are actually unlawful.

    Milwaukee Journal Sentinal
    Absentee ballot drop boxes can’t be used in Wisconsin any longer, a Waukesha County judge rules
    Patrick Marley / January 13, 2022

    MADISON – A Waukesha County judge ruled Thursday that absentee ballot drop boxes can’t be used in Wisconsin, potentially upending aspects of the spring elections and the fall’s high-profile contests for governor and U.S. Senate.

    After hearing three hours of arguments, Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren determined state law allows absentee ballots to be returned in person or by mail — but not in a ballot drop box.

    Drop boxes have long been available in some Wisconsin communities, but their use expanded greatly in 2020 when absentee voting exploded because of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 500 of them were available during the presidential election, according to a database compiled by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

    Many of the ballot drop boxes in Wisconsin are tamper proof, under 24-hour camera surveillance and in fire stations, libraries or other government offices. Those drop boxes can no longer be used, but voters will still be able to drop ballots into less secure blue postal boxes that are on street corners around the state.

    Meanwhile, Republicans who control the state Legislature have been separately trying to block the use of drop boxes by forcing the Elections Commission to adopt formal rules on the matter by next month. If the commission were to do that, the lawmakers could swiftly block the rules.

  11. says

    SC @16, that’s good news. And about time. DirectTV subscribers were supporting OAN even if they did not want that channel, and even if they never watched it.

  12. says

    CNN – “India’s Hindu extremists are calling for genocide against Muslims. Why is little being done to stop them?”:

    At a conference in India last month, a Hindu extremist dressed head-to-toe in the religion’s holy color, saffron, called on her supporters to kill Muslims and “protect” the country.

    “If 100 of us become soldiers and are prepared to kill 2 million (Muslims), then we will win … protect India, and make it a Hindu nation,” said Pooja Shakun Pandey, a senior member of the right-wing Hindu Mahasabha political party, according to a video of the event.

    Her words and calls for violence from other religious leaders were met with a roar of applause from the large audience, a video from the three-day conference in the northern Indian city of Haridwar shows.

    But across India, people were outraged. Nearly a month on, many are still furious at the lack of government response or arrests over the comments, which they say highlights a worsening climate for the country’s Muslims.

    Analysts say the Hindu Mahasabha is at the tip of a broader trend in India which has seen an alarming rise in support for extremist Hindu nationalist groups since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power nearly eight years ago.

    Although these groups aren’t directly associated with Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), his own Hindu nationalist agenda, and the lack of repercussions for these groups’ previous vitriolic comments, has given them tacit support, making them even more brazen, analysts say.

    Analysts fear this rise poses a serious danger to minorities, especially Muslims — and worry it may only get worse as several Indian states head to the polls in the coming months.

    “What makes the Hindu Mahasabha dangerous,” said Gilles Verniers, an assistant professor of political science at Ashoka University near India’s capital, New Delhi, “is that they have been waiting for a moment like this in decades.”

    Founded in 1907 during British rule at a time of growing conflict between Muslims and Hindus in the country, the Hindu Mahasabha is one of India’s oldest political organizations.

    The group didn’t support British rule, but it didn’t back India’s freedom movement either, led by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who was particularly tolerant of Muslims. Even now, some members of the group worship his assassin, Nathuram Godse.

    The Hindu Mahasabha’s vision, according to the group’s official website, is to declare India the “National Home of the Hindus.” The website says if it takes power, it will not hesitate to “force” the migration of India’s Muslims to neighboring Pakistan and vows to reform the country’s education system to align it with their version of Hinduism.

    With its controversial campaigns and ideology, Hindu Mahasabha has always been a marginal political force. The last time the group had a presence in Parliament was in 1991.

    But according to Verniers, their “strength is not to be measured in electoral terms.” And in the past eight years since Modi came to power, they appear to have expanded in numbers and influence based on the size and frequency of their meetings, he said.

    While the group does not publicly disclose how many members it has, Verniers said they are “comfortably in the tens of thousands.”

    Hindu Mahasabha targets rural communities in northern states, where there is a large BJP presence, encouraging them to vote for parties that align with their Hindu-nationalist ideology, including Modi’s BJP, Verniers said.

    Modi, in turn, has publicly honored the Hindu Mahasabha’s late leader, Veer Savarkar, for “his bravery” and “emphasis on social reform.”

    And as Hindu Mahasabha has grown in recent years, it has become more outspoken.

    Hindu Mahasabha isn’t the only right-wing Hindu nationalist group to espouse violent sentiment toward liberals and minorities — including India’s 200 million Muslims, who make up 15% of the country’s 1.3 billion population.

    At last month’s conference, several speakers called on India’s Hindus to “defend” the religion with weapons. Another called for the “cleansing” of India’s minorities, according to video from the event.

    But according to Verniers, Hindu Mahasbha one of the largest right-wing political groups aiming to make India the land of the Hindus.

    And while the group’s campaigns and ideas are decades old, they’re more bold about them now.

    The reason extremist groups appear to be on the rise is clear, according to experts: they have impunity and support.

    India prohibits hate speech under several sections of its penal code, including a section which criminalizes “deliberate and malicious acts” intended to insult religious beliefs.

    According to lawyer Vrinda Grover, any group inciting violence is barred under Indian law.

    “Police, states and the government are responsible to ensure (inciting violence) doesn’t happen,” she said. “But the state, through its inaction, is actually permitting these groups to function, while endangering Muslims who are the targets.”

    The BJP has its roots in Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a right wing-Hindu group that counts Modi among its members. Many RSS members are adherents of the Hindutva ideology that the Hindu Mahasabha preach — to make India the land of the Hindus.

    In December, crowds of India’s Hindu-right confronted Muslims praying on the streets in the city of Gurugram, just outside of Delhi. They prevented Muslims from praying, while shouting slogans and carrying banners in protest.

    “It is an electoral strategy,” said Verniers, the political scientist. “Create religious tension, activate religious polarization and consolidate on the Hindu vote.”

    Grover, the lawyer, said criminal laws are “weaponized” in India, adding anyone who challenges those in power “face the wrath of the law.”

    “Muslim lives in India are demonized,” she said. “The Indian state is in serious crisis.”…

    More at the link.

  13. says

    Students have a lot to deal with in today’s day and age: surviving a global pandemic, going to school among anti-mask protests, and big-picture polarization among political parties they mostly can’t participate in yet. Structural and latent racism and xenophobia continue to infiltrate classrooms, too, as though young people don’t have enough hardships. One example comes to us from Mill Middle School in the Williamsville Central School District in New York state, where startlingly racist remarks were part of a Spanish class homework assignment, as reported by local outlet WGRZ.

    A sixth-grade homework assignment went viral online after parents became concerned about translations included in the worksheet. Among 10 translations, the homework asked students to translate phrases like “You (politely) are pretty and American” and “You (friendly) are Mexican and ugly” from English into Spanish. In a word: Yikes!

    […] Sadly, there are tons of comparable examples when it comes to our school system perpetuating structural racism and bias. Here are just a handful of those that we’ve covered here at Daily Kos: An assignment at an Ohio middle school once asked students to rank people based on demographics like sexual orientation and faith. A charter school in Texas asked students to describe “positive” aspects of life as an enslaved person. Similarly, a teacher in Wisconsin asked students to describe how they would “punish” enslaved people. In Texas, 90 high school freshmen once received a disturbing homework question about rape. […]


    More at the link.

  14. says

    […] Virginia elected Republican Glenn Youngkin, who’s set to take office today and has pledged to immediately lift the Commonwealth’s mask mandate in schools, because the pandemic apparently went away without telling anyone.

    Also, there’s a bill before the House of Delegates (it’s like a house of representatives, only more quaint), introduced by freshman Republican Del. Wren Williams, that would ban the teaching of “divisive concepts” and also make sure the schools teach American history right.

    One part of the proposed bill, HB 781, drew a whole lot of snarking on the Twitters Thursday, because it mandates that schools should ensure that all students “demonstrate an understanding of”

    The founding documents of the United States, including the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the Federalist Papers, including Essays 10 and 51, excerpts from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, the first debate between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, and the writings of the Founding Fathers of the United States. [emphasis added]

    Williams, a Trumpy Republican who believes the Great Man [Hair Furor] won the 2020 election, was derided for that ridiculous error, since of course Lincoln actually held a series of debates with Sen. Stephen Douglas, a white supremacist who believed slavery should continue to be allowed if white people wanted it. Lincoln did not debate abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who escaped slavery himself and was one of the most well-known opponents of America’s founding shame. If he had debated Lincoln for hours and hours, the two would have been saying “I entirely concur with my worthy opponent” a lot.

    Not surprisingly, a lot of folks on Twitter figured that maybe Williams just liked Donald Trump so much that Mr. Williams simply considers Frederick Douglass “an example of somebody who has done an amazing job that is being recognized more and more,” and did you know that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican? Not many people know that.

    Friday morning, the Virginia Division of Legal Services took the blame for the error, releasing a statement explaining that it had mistakenly added the error to the bill during the drafting process, “following receipt of a historically accurate request from the office of Delegate Wren Williams.”

    So don’t you damn liberal progressive America haters go calling Wren Williams a birdbrain over that.

    Instead, you can call him a birdbrain over this: if Virginia teachers actually teach the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, or the Declaration of Independence too accurately, they may run the risk of getting fired for running afoul of Section A of HR 781 instead.

    That’s because, like all the other copy-pasted, probably unconstitutional bans on teaching “divisive concepts” and “critical race theory” in schools, the bill prohibits teaching the concept that “one race, religion, ethnicity, or sex is inherently superior to another race, religion, ethnicity, or sex,” or that “an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of the individual’s race, religion, ethnicity, or sex.”

    Now, we certainly don’t think schools should teach kids to believe those things, either, but the problem comes in Section E2 of the bill, which makes clear that “no school board or employee thereof” is allowed to “teach or incorporate into any course or class any divisive concept.”

    As damnliberal history professors like Seth Cotlar Of Willamette University insist on pointing out, the very texts the bill says all Virginia kids should be familiar with are freaking full of divisive concepts. For starters, there’s that Declaration of Independence with its complaint that King George III has

    excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.

    That certainly seems to say that one race is inherently superior to another, now doesn’t it?

    The bill doesn’t specify which excerpts from Democracy in America should be taught, but we’d assume teachers using Tocqueville would want to avoid passages like this, from Chapter 18, which sounds pretty darn divisive in its discussion of the “three races” to be found in America.

    Among these widely differing families of men, the first that attracts attention, the superior in intelligence, in power, and in enjoyment, is the white, or European, the MAN pre-eminently so called, below him appear the Negro and the Indian. These two unhappy races have nothing in common, neither birth, nor features, nor language, nor habits. Their only resemblance lies in their misfortunes. Both of them occupy an equally inferior position in the country they inhabit; both suffer from tyranny; and if their wrongs are not the same, they originate from the same authors.

    Good heavens! That awfully divisive French guy isn’t merely suggesting that white people are superior, he’s also saying America is a systematically racist place!

    In the paragraphs that follow this passage, Tocqueville continues that point at length, blaming white people for the oppression of Black people and Native Americans in a way that seems calculated to make the reader “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual’s race, religion, ethnicity, or sex,” another divisive concept.

    It’s such an acute depiction of racist oppression that we have no doubt it could make Virginia kids feel very down on America, perhaps illegally so. […]

    And then there’s the actual Stephen Douglas, whose opinions in the debates with Lincoln are plenty divisive, too. Douglas mocked Lincoln for believing

    that the negro was born his equal and yours, and that he was endowed with equality by the Almighty, and that no human law can deprive him of these rights which were guarantied to him by the Supreme ruler of the Universe. Now, I do not believe that the Almighty ever intended the negro to be the equal of the white man. (“Never, never.”) If he did, he has been a long time demonstrating the fact. (Cheers.)

    For thousands of years the negro has been a race upon the earth, and during all that time, in all latitudes and climates, wherever he has wandered or been taken, he has been inferior to the race which he has there met. He belongs to an inferior race, and must always occupy an inferior position. (“Good,” “that’s so,” &c.)

    Thank goodness Wren Williams is there to protect innocent Virginia schoolchildren from the divisive ideas that Wren Williams wants all Virginia schoolchildren to be familiar with, the end.


  15. says

    Novak Djokovic has had his visa to stay in Australia revoked — not once but twice. After a successful appeal of his apprehension at the border by authorities, our immigration minister has affirmed the initial refusal. The world’s No. 1 men’s singles tennis player is out of the Australian Open (at least for now).

    It’s a move that the local papers have claimed will “undoubtedly prove popular with the Australian public.”

    So, Novak. Mate. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, hey?

    Australians may well be exhausted from two years of the pandemic and sick and weakened by a current mass infection of Covid-19, and yet many of us retain enough energy to be thrilled by this news.

    The hashtag #DjokovicOut has been a trending topic here for days. A poll conducted by a local media organization reported a staggering 83 percent of 60,000 respondents were in favor of Djokovic’s booting. Two major network news anchors were caught on hot mics using at least 10 expletives to discuss the issue. This would usually provoke some social sanction, but given that the expletives in question were used to describe Djokovic, both news anchors have since become national heroes. […]

    an otherwise skilled sportsman has made himself a cackhanded symbol of everything presently enraging Australians. His first mistake was to align himself with the kinds of ideas Australians see in online misinformation campaigns from the anti-vax movement.

    This is a man who once self-diagnosed a gluten intolerance by gripping some bread. He’s made claims that polluted water can be cleansed with the mind. He declared he was “opposed to vaccination” back in April 2020, before a vaccine was even available for the coronavirus.

    Our social tolerance is also dwindling for those whose approach to public health is seen as selfish. (An extraordinary 90 percent of Australians are fully vaccinated.) Sports commentators reminded readers that when Naomi Osaka became unwell in 2021, Djokovic insisted that the press appearances she resisted were “part of the sport” — yet he’s conducted his current Australian misadventure around his own preferences, not his obligations to society. […]

    to understand the rage unleashed by Djokovic, one has to recognize the similarities between his behavior and that of our government. First, there is their shared failure to treat the threat of the virus’s transmissibility seriously. Then there are the obfuscations, contradictory statements, blame shifting and inherent belief that rules only apply to other people, which characterize months of government mismanagement of the crisis. There’s a familiar pattern of government miscommunication and ineptitude unfolding around Djokovic that sadly reminds us of our brief and squandered advantage over the virus. […]

    New York Times link

  16. says

    Dear Lynna, OM, I like your comments, they are insightful and pointed. I went to your site . You are a skilled artisan in many media. However, I wanted to read more of your writings, but your blog link won’t open. If there is a way to read more of your comments please provide a link
    (And just another opportunity for others to keep up on space exploration, here is the link again: )

  17. says

    shermanj, I apologize for the problems in accessing the blog portion of that website. I am having major difficulties with that site. I am not sure when, or if, I will be able to fix it.

  18. says

    SC @24, “The vote counter is more important than the candidate.” Trump is so blatantly a scam artist, a con man! No doubt, he’ll say the same sort of thing at his rally (covid super spreader event) in Arizona tonight. And then his cult followers will double down on installing unethical “vote counters.”

  19. says

    Yikes. Not a good move on the part of a judge in Kentucky:

    One Kentucky judge has found a special way to make his mark on the military’s sexual assault problem: He’s trying to force a man convicted of sexual assault to join the military.

    […] according to a RAND Corporation report. “Estimates for sexual harassment are one in four women and one in 16 men.” It’s a problem that’s drawn a lot of attention, though a recent push to change how crimes are handled in the military got watered down in Congress.

    But when Brandon Scott Price was convicted of second-degree sexual assault, Judge Thomas Wingate gave him a suspended sentence, under orders to enlist.

    “If you don’t enroll in 30 days, you can report to the Franklin County Regional Jail,” Wingate told him. “You are under the gun, young man. You gotta do it.”

    t’s bad enough on the surface: Let’s send a sexual predator to a setting that has a major sexual assault problem. It gets worse.

    Price’s conviction stems from an assault on an inmate at that same Franklin County Regional Jail, where Price worked as a guard. When a female inmate needed medical treatment for high blood pressure, he “transported (the inmate) alone, in violation of Jail policy and industry standards and practices,” to the emergency room. While the two were at the hospital, Price insinuated that he might be able to affect parole board decisions and made “sexually-charged comments” to her. Then, while she was shackled in the back of the van back to the jail, Price pulled the van over, “turned around and told (the inmate) if she performed oral sex on him, he would talk to the KDOC employee he knew about getting her released from jail earlier,” and assaulted her. While she was shackled and under his control and custody as a jail guard.

    This is who Judge Thomas Wingate wants to send to a setting in which one in 16 women are sexually assaulted even without the addition of convicted sexual predators.

    The good news is this: “Without a waiver, Army Regulation 610-210—which covers Army recruiting guidelines—states that an applicant is not eligible for enlistment if they ‘As a condition for any civil conviction or adverse disposition or any other reason through a civil or criminal court, is ordered or subjected to a sentence that implies or imposes enlistment into the Armed Forces of the United States,’” Task and Purpose reports. “While these determinations continue to occur, they carry no legal weight and only serve to further propagate another military myth. Still, that hasn’t stopped judges and lawmakers from proposing military service as an alternative to jail time. Last December, a Florida state senator proposed a law that would allow people convicted of nonviolent misdemeanor offenses to enlist rather than go to jail.”

    But the fact that a judge would think this was an appropriate recommendation is yet another indictment of the so-called criminal justice system—and particularly the role of elected judges—in this country. Wingate faced no opposition in his last election.


  20. says

    Fort Worth Star-Telegram – “Colleyville synagogue held hostage during livestream service, police negotiating with man”:

    Authorities northeast of Fort Worth are negotiating with a man who has apparently taken people hostage at a Colleyville synagogue during services. It is unclear if anyone is injured and how the man may be armed.

    The service was being livestreamed on Facebook, and the live recording has continued to capture muffled audio of what sounds like negotiations with police.

    Colleyville police said it is conducting SWAT operations in the 6100 block of Pleasant Run Road, the location of Congregation Beth Israel.

    All residents in the immediate area are being evacuated, and people are asked to avoid the area.

    Commenters on a Facebook livestream of a service at the synagogue say a man there is holding people hostage. An angry man can be heard ranting on the ongoing livestream, at times talking about religion. The video does not show what is happening in the building.

    The man has repeatedly mentioned his sister and Islam and used profanities. At one point, another voice can be heard apparently talking on the phone to police. The man has said a few times he didn’t want anyone hurt, and he has mentioned his children.

    He also said repeatedly he believes he is going to die.

    It’s unclear how many people are in the synagogue. Commenters on the livestream are offering prayers for Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker. More than 8,000 viewers are watching the livestream.

    Shabbat morning service began at 10 a.m. Saturday, according to the synagogue’s calendar.

    Colleyville is about 17 miles northeast of downtown Fort Worth.

    This is a developing story and will be updated.

  21. says

    Not really feeling sorry for Prince Andrew.

    Stripped of his scarlet tunics and white plumes, his military titles and honorary patronages, and cast aside by his lifelong protector — his mother, his queen — Britain’s Prince Andrew finds himself in the royal wilderness, and courtiers say there is no way back.

    His friendships with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, both convicted of sexually exploiting teenage girls, have created the biggest crisis for the House of Windsor since the death of Princess Diana. The royal family has stood by Andrew for more than a decade since the first scandalous headlines emerged, while the prince repeatedly denied all accusations. But after a judge in New York ruled this past week that a sexual abuse lawsuit against him can move forward, the palace made clear that he will fight this alone, “as a private citizen.”

    He will remain a prince, yes — ninth in line to the throne. He’s still Duke of York, for now. But without the pomp and circumstance, without the military finery in which he has swaddled himself. Speeches, ribbon cuttings, parades, trade missions abroad and applause? Officially gone, alongside his use of the honorific “His Royal Highness.”

    […] While Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were freed of constraints on making outside money when they gave up their royal roles, Andrew’s fall doesn’t leave him with much leverage for that.

    Palace watchers envision a kind of 21st-century banishment, an “internal exile” for the 61-year-old duke.
    He may be allowed to remain at Royal Lodge, where he lives with his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson. With 30 rooms, including seven bedrooms, it’s hardly a bad place to have to hole up. Even as he lay low there the past couple years, he would continue to drive his $100,000 Range Rover hybrid over to Windsor Castle, just three miles away, to ride horses on the grounds or have lunch with his mum.

    […] speculated that Andrew may soon sell his ski chalet in the Swiss Alps to help fund mounting legal costs. “I can’t see the queen digging her hand into her pocket” on this, he said. [photo of Swiss chalet is available at the link]

    Regarding the lawsuit, legal experts contend that Andrew may have no real choice but to settle the civil case brought against him by Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s victims, who says she was trafficked to Andrew on three occasions, starting when she was 17.

    […] Nick Goldstone, a legal commentator and head of dispute resolution at the Ince law firm in London, noted that while English law relies primarily on written witness statements, U.S. courts tend to involve videotaped depositions. If the lawsuit proceeded toward a fall court date, Andrew could soon find himself being pressed by lawyers, under oath, about the most intimate details of his private life. “A grueling experience that I do not think Andrew would want to experience,” Goldstone said.

    […] Nigel Cawthorne, author of “Prince Andrew: Epstein, Maxwell and the Palace,” said Andrew could try to use the queen’s jubilee as justification for settling. “He could say, ‘We will settle this, because it’s overshadowing my mother’s jubilee.’ He has the perfect excuse. But the British public will ask, ‘Where does the 5 million pound [settlement] come from? Is it out of your pocket?’ ”

    […] Giuffre said: “My goal has always been to show that the rich and powerful are not above the law & must be held accountable. I do not walk this path alone, but alongside countless other survivors of sexual abuse & trafficking.” […]

    Washington Post link

  22. says

    ABC correspondent: “One suspect has taken the rabbi and three others hostage at a synagogue in Colleyville, TX. The hostage-taker is claiming to be armed and says his sister is Aafia Siddiqui, who was convicted in New York of trying to kill US military personnel”

  23. says

    CNN isn’t saying this (yet?), but the ABC correspondent, Aaron Katersky, is continuing to report that the Colleyville hostage-taker claims to be Aafia Siddiqui’s brother Muhammed. If the WP page is correct, she’s in prison in Fort Worth and he lives in Dallas.

    From the WP page:

    Aafia Siddiqui was born in Karachi, Pakistan, to Muhammad Salay Siddiqui, a British-trained neurosurgeon, and Ismet (née Faroochi), an Islamic teacher, social worker and charity volunteer. She belongs to the Urdu-speaking Muhajir, Deobandi community of Karachi. She was raised in an observant Muslim household, although her parents combined devotional Islam with their resolve to understand and use technological advances in science.

    Ismet Siddiqui was prominent in political and religious circles, teaching classes on Islam wherever she lived, founding a United Islamic Organization, and serving as a member of Pakistan’s parliament. Her support for strict Islam in the face of feminist opposition to his Hudood Ordinances drew the attention of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq who appointed her to a Zakat Council. Siddiqui is the youngest of three siblings. Her brother, Muhammad, studied to become an architect in Houston, Texas, while her sister, Fowzia, is a Harvard-trained neurologist who worked at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore and taught at Johns Hopkins University before she returned to Pakistan.

    She’s a “neuroscientist with degrees from MIT and Brandeis University.” Her mother was like a Pakistani Phyllis Schlafly.

  24. says

    Guardian – “Protesters rally across UK against police and crime bill”:

    Protesters have taken to the streets in cities across the UK to rally against the police and crime bill, which is reaching its final stages in parliament.

    The police, crime, sentencing and courts bill, sections of which have been condemned by human rights activists as an attack on the right to protest, will be voted on in the House of Lords on Monday.

    Hundreds of “kill the bill” protesters rallied in London on Saturday, while demonstrations also took place in cities including Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and Plymouth.

    Addressing the crowd in Parliament Square, the Labour peer Shami Chakrabarti said the bill’s anti-protest provisions “represent the greatest attack on peaceful dissent in living memory”. “This rightwing, authoritarian government used to encourage pro-Brexit demos and statue defenders when it suited them,” she said.

    Chakrabarti accused the government of hypocrisy, saying it “bangs on about free speech and whinges about cancel culture” and other countries “where fundamental rights are under attack” while clamping down on rights in the UK. “Free speech is a two-way street. And you know what? The ultimate cancel culture, it doesn’t come with a tweet – it comes with a police baton and a prison sentence for nonviolent dissent,” she said.

    The bill’s anti-protest measures grant police the power to ban marches and demonstrations that they consider to be “seriously disruptive”, including those deemed too noisy. Gypsy, Roma and traveller communities would effectively be criminalised by measures against residing on land without authorisation, while police would also be granted expanded stop and search powers and sentences of up to 10 years could be handed down for damage to memorials or statues.

    Labour members in the House of Lords will oppose last-minute amendments to the bill, it was announced on Friday. The amendments added in November, which focus on new powers to control protests, include new offences for “locking on” – where protesters attach themselves to objects or each other – and would give police the power to ban named individuals from protesting.

  25. says

    Wajahat Ali tweeted: “You’re about to hear some ugly & vicious Islamophobia & anti-Muslim bigotry this weekend from elected officials, commentators and even mainstream media. Hope I’m wrong. People will use it to divide Jewish and Muslim communities for their political agenda. Don’t fall for it.”

  26. says

    Amarnath Amarasingam:

    Confirmed from a few different sources now:

    The suspect seems to be calling for Aafia’s release but it is NOT her actual brother Muhammad Siddiqui.

    Early reporting seems to have heard the suspect calling for the release of his “sister” (in Islam) and got confused.

    Hmm. Katersky’s tweets are still up and haven’t been updated. He is demanding her release in any event.

  27. says

    Dear Lynna, OM,
    Thanks for letting us know about your blog. Don’t worry, you provide a lot of great insights here and I hope your books and art sell well.
    RE: the brittish Andrew formerly known as prince? I hear he’s been nominated for an award as ‘upper middle-class twit of the year’ (Monty Python nominated him). Why do so many “toxic redneck wasps” think that they can force themselves (physically or ideologically) on everyone? Rhetorical question, we know why, it’s their right to abuse others!?

  28. says

    The Daily Beast tweeted: “UPDATE: Aafia Siddiqui’s biological brother, Muhammad, is not the person holding hostages inside the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue, his lawyer has told The Daily Beast.”

  29. says

    Katersky: “An attorney who represents the actual brother of Aafia Siddiqui told ABC News his client has been fielding calls from law enforcement and assuring them he is not involved in the hostage taking and has been trying to free his sister through peaceful means.”

    The hostage situation is ongoing, and no injuries have been reported.

  30. birgerjohansson says

    Science Fiction author Rob Goulart has died at 89.
    He wrote several parodies in the late 1970s that I remember well.

  31. StevoR says

    @28. Lynna, OM : So the military is meant to be the same as jail or just slightly better? Is it just me or is there something telling in that? Serving your country in a military capacity is punishment. Wonder how the military feels about this sort of thing?

  32. StevoR says

    Wikipedia has the latest news – seems its now over :

    After more than 12 hours, the four hostages were freed and the attacker was confirmed to be dead.

    Citing among others :

    Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted about 9:35 p.m. that all hostages are safe and out of a Colleyville synagogue after a loud bang and gunfire were heard. U.S. Rep. Beth Van Duyne told a Star-Telegram reporter in a text that the hostage-taker is dead. A loud bang followed by what sounded like gunfire was heard about 9:12 p.m. Saturday outside the Colleyville synagogue where a hostage situation has been ongoing for hours. This developing story will be updated.

    & also from wikipedia :

    Apparently “..her case has been called a “flashpoint of Pakistani-American tensions”,[15] and “one of the most mysterious in a secret war dense with mysteries”.

  33. says

    From the NBC update – “Man holding people in Colleyville, Texas, synagogue dead, hostages released safely”:

    …Miller said the suspect, whose identity has not been released, is dead. Officials did not release how the man died.

    The hostages, all of whom were adults, were not physically harmed and did not require medical attention, officials said.

    Matthew DeSarno, FBI Dallas special agent in charge, said the hostage taker was thought to have been “singularly focused on one issue and it was not specifically related to the Jewish community.”

    The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has advocated for Siddiqui’s release and claimed she is innocent, said Siddiqui’s brother was not the hostage taker in the synagogue.

    John Floyd, board chair of CAIR Houston and longtime legal counsel for Siddiqui’s brother, said in a statement that his client is not responsible for the situation, is not near Dallas-Fort Worth and that hostage taker has nothing to do with Siddiqui.

    “We want the assailant to know that his actions are wicked and directly undermine those of us who are seeking justice for Dr. Aafia,” Floyd said in a statement.

  34. says

    Guardian Observer – “Concern for UK security as anti-vaxxer groups evolve towards US-style militias”:

    Counter-terrorism officials and police are increasingly concerned over the trajectory of the UK’s anti-vaxxer movement as it evolves towards violent extremism and the formation of US-style militias.

    Boris Johnson is among those receiving direct security updates on individuals prepared to “undermine national health security”. [LOL]

    The movement’s more extreme elements are recruiting and strategising over the encrypted social media messaging app Telegram, with one UK anti-vaxxer channel asking for “men of integrity” to “fight for our children’s future”.

    Anti-vaxxers have targeted scores of schools and recently stormed a Covid testing site. They were led by Britain’s most visible activist, Piers Corbyn, who subsequently urged people to burn down the offices of MPs who backed new restrictions.

    Latest intelligence assessments describe the anti-vaxxer movement as ostensibly a conveyor belt, delivering fresh recruits to extremist groups, including racially and ethnically motivated violent extremist organisations.

    Of chief concern is that Britain’s anti-vaxx conspiracists are moving offline, with the UK-based Alpha Men Assemble (AMA) group organising military-style training in preparation for what it has termed a “war” on the government and its Covid policies.

    The AMA is also openly seeking UK veterans, an approach that overlaps with US militia activities. Telegram messages suggest a number of ex-service personnel have already joined….

    Another group, Veterans 4 Freedom, and which is understood to have around 200 members, has hosted Telegram conversations referring to a violent insurrection in which vaccination centres are targeted.

    Imran Ahmed, chief executive of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which briefs UK officials on the evolving anti-vaxx threat, said: “We’re seeing the convergence of anti-vaxxers into other fringe movements.

    “They’re adopting what they have learned about marketing strategies and communications, when they have sought new markets and how to converge their audiences and hybridise their ideologies, similar to the way the ‘great reset’ has replaced QAnon as the cohering conspiracy narrative for fringe elements.”…

  35. says

    Guardian – “BBC licence fee to be abolished in 2027 and funding frozen”:

    The BBC licence fee will be abolished in 2027 and the broadcaster’s funding will be frozen for the next two years, the government has said, in an announcement that will force the broadcaster to close services and make further redundancies.

    The culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, will announce that the cost of an annual licence, required to watch live television and access iPlayer services, will remain at £159 until 2024 before rising slightly for the following three years.

    She also said this would be the end of the current licence fee funding model for the BBC, raising doubts about the long-term future of the public broadcaster under a Conservative government.

    The BBC will have to negotiate with the government over an entirely new funding model when the final licence fee funding deal expires in 2027 – raising the prospect of a subscription service or part-privatisation.

    The BBC has already made substantial cuts behind the scenes, meaning the next round of cuts are likely to hit on-air services. As a result the public should prepare for the BBC to provide less high-end drama and sports coverage, pad schedules with cheaper programmes, and potentially close some channels or services altogether. This could in turn erode support for the BBC if the public no longer feel they are receiving value-for-money from the licence fee….

  36. says

    SC @20, way too many parallels between Trump cultists othering various minorities and the ways in which Hindu extremists continue to demonize Muslims. This is not going to end well.

  37. says

    Fascists aren’t funny, and Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld is no exception

    Right-wing “humor” has always been a bit of an oxymoron. Some have attributed the phenomenal success of talk radio hosts such as the late Rush Limbaugh to the fact that they were “funny,” but Limbaugh’s humor (such as it was) was better characterized as wanton exaggeration or “shock” humor in which the former radio host was lauded for outspoken, negative opinions about progressives and progressive politics. These were opinions which, as Justin Peters noted for Slate shortly after Limbaugh’s death, were routinely and incessantly delivered with “malevolent glee.” To call Limbaugh “funny” was to overlook the overriding approach he employed in all of his antics.

    [H]is was the wit of the prep school bully making fun of the foreign exchange student’s lunch. Limbaugh made a career out of relentlessly antagonizing anyone he thought threatened the primacy of his belief system—which essentially held that no one had any right to tell Rush Limbaugh what he could or could not say, think, or do. Limbaugh’s defining characteristic—the one that would go on to infect our politics—wasn’t his conservatism. It was that he was an abrasive jerk.

    Because its core principles are almost always rooted in a reactionary politics of grievance, conservative “humor” generally lacks the key ingredient of self-effacement necessary to good comedy. Unlike liberal humor, which tends to punch upward at authority, conservative humor by its very nature punches down and denigrates. For that reason (and others), it tends to fall flat among all but those who are wedded to its aggrieved vantage point in the first place. Almost as a rule, it eventually fails under its own weight. Think of Dennis Miller, the erstwhile Saturday Night Live comedian famous for his Weekend Update segments who underwent a radical transformation after the 9/11 attacks.

    As Joshua Green observed in the Washington Monthly back in 2012:

    The attacks of September 11, 2001, turned Miller into a fawning admirer of the same president he’d once held in contempt. The change was striking not only because Miller was supporting a Republican, but because he lost his sense of irony and adopted the full complement of Fox News- Republican vices: the chest-thumping America-first bravado, the angry paranoia, the presumption of treasonous bad faith in anyone who didn’t share his views. This was especially jarring because the latter included most of Miller’s fans, who didn’t know what had happened to the guy.

    This week Manuel Roig-Franzia, a feature writer for Washington Post’s Style section, wrote what many are legitimately deriding as a “puff piece” on Fox News’ resident “humorist,” Greg Gutfeld. For 12 years Gutfeld headlined a comedic show titled Red Eye, which aired in the graveyard, 2 AM to 3 AM time slot during most of the week on Fox News channel. It earned him what Roig-Franzia characterizes as a “cultlike” devotion among his fanbase as well as a degree of respect among more liberal comedians. Since the election of Donald Trump, however, Gutfeld has honed his material to conform to Trump’s incendiary brand of right-wing rhetoric, becoming “ a scorching critic of America’s racial reckoning following high-profile police shootings of Black men, and leaned harder into the Democrat-bashing that characterizes Fox News.”

    It’s frankly difficult to tell if Roig-Franzia’s intent is to elevate Gutfeld by describing his work with such superlatives as a “high-energy combination of comic jabs,” or touting him as a “uniquely potent foe for the left.” But there seems to be a deliberate lack of awareness at work here, as demonstrated in uncritical paragraphs like this: [screenshot available at the link]

    In this 1934 cartoon from Nazi Germany’s Die Brennessel, a Jew, a communist, and a socialist are depicted saying: “It’s been a year and they still have not let us back in. It is beginning to look like they don’t want us…” The cartoon is captioned: “If you give people enough time, they get the idea.” (Screenshot from German propaganda archive,…)

    In Gutfeld’s America, President Biden is a doddering geezer. The mainstream media is essentially a house organ for the left. And the nation isn’t engaged in a necessary national conversation on race, and racial disparities in housing, health care and employment. Instead, he aims to persuade his audience that the nation is consumed by destructive and divisive “reverse racism” and an insidious campaign against Whites.

    Yes. The last paragraph above is what I’m seeing on rightwing media outlets everywhere, not just Fox News. And this is the basis of Gutfeld’s “humor.”

    […] In his eagerness to highlight Gutfeld’s appeal, Roig-Franzia also doesn’t acknowledge Gutfeld’s prior performance and past statements. As pointed out by Media Matters, these include the following:

    We are a country of fighters, and we will do it again by February 1st. Because, you know what? We can. We’ve got the Second Amendment. We run this country. […]

    Teachers unions have managed to take one of the most beloved occupations and redefined it as selfish and lazy. […]

    [On Kyle Rittenhouse]: He did the right thing. He did what the government should have done which was to make sure these dirtbags, these violent disgusting dirtbags, were not roaming the streets.

    That is just a small taste of the mindset that informs Gutfeld’s “humor.” (He also dispenses vaccine disinformation).

    [Roig-Franzia informs us] that Gutfeld is a “punk-rock and metal fan” and advocates drug legalization, as if that somehow compensates for his abhorrent views. […]

    It’s not my intent here to ignore Gutfeld—at my peril or otherwise—but to elaborate on something that Roig-Franzia barely touches on in what is for the most part a fawning account of Gutfeld’s emergence and popularity. It’s the insidious nature of comedy and humor when adapted to service and normalize a regime of exclusion and racism such as the one constantly exhibited by the modern Republican Party in this country.

    Fascist and other right-wing attempts to co-opt humor have a long history. In the early years of WWII, the Nazis released a series of 14 film shorts called Tran und Helle to accompany their newsreels. Tran was portrayed as a dimwitted fellow constantly falling into “bad” ways of thinking until he received a lecture from Helle setting him straight. Laced heavily with antisemitic, nationalist propaganda, these short films enjoyed broad popularity until about 1940 when the Nazis realized that the German populace was identifying with Tran and even approved of his actions. The films were quickly pulled from distribution by Goebbels after this was discovered. [video available at the link]

    […] Employing black humor and so-called irony is one of the ways the white supremacist alt-right, for example, manages to soft-pedal the hatefulness of its views to new recruits; it’s often the only face that the outside world sees, at least at the outset. This has been described as a “troll culture” because its purpose is to provoke while allowing its proponents the glee of participating in an “inside joke” and instilling in them a sense of moral superiority. Often the humor is simply used as a cover for exposing the viewer/participant to radical ideologies.

    […] Gutfeld’s brand of humor doesn’t even rise to this level of sophistication. It’s mostly a lowbrow, mean-spirited, distorted regurgitation of GOP talking points that seems weirdly prepackaged, an embarrassingly poor and puerile parody of what humor is supposed to be. But the fact that it is clearly made for ardent fans of Fox News and thus serves that network’s function as a political propaganda outlet for the Republican Party places Gutfeld! in a special category of humor. […]

    […] from May 26, 2021:

    Yes. I think that no — I think that we should allow the mystery of whether you’re vaccinated or not to permeate in restaurants because that will cause waiters to spend less time at each table because the spread is directly related to the amount of time you spend with somebody. It’s like 15 minutes leads to transmission or something like that. But if the waiter doesn’t know, Tyrus, then they have to take your order faster and move to the next table. So you actually increase the productivity of the restaurant help. What do you make of that?

    The “punching down” quality of conservative humor is on full display here, with the targets being young liberal women [example snipped], mentally ill people [example snipped], and service workers (waitstaff) […] It’s notable that there’s an element of contempt almost always present in right-wing humor. But more broadly, because both he and his show are inextricably associated with Fox News, Gutfeld provides us a window into exactly how the Republican Party feels about large swaths of the American population. […]

    That lack of regard for their audience combined with a lack of self-awareness and empathy is why right-wing humor hardly ever succeeds. But it may be even more fundamental than that: When all you have to offer is hatred, resentment, and ridicule, there’s really not much to laugh about.

  38. says

    Oliver Nelson’s liner notes from the 1969 release, “Black, Brown and Beautiful”, a tribute to MLK, resonate heavily today, more than ever perhaps.

    Image of liner notes is available at the link. One year after MLK’s assassination, Nelson released his epic jazz tribute to Dr. King, “Black, Brown, and Beautiful.”

    It took until the year 2000 for all 50 states to officially recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

  39. says

    Trump’s first 2022 rally was a boring and repetitive event, but it did a lot to promote people that he thinks could help him steal the White House.

    Donald Trump, the twice impeached ex-president who has never won a majority of Americans’ votes, held his first rally of 2022 last night in Florence, Arizona.

    Trump used the occasion to spout nonsense about the 2020 election, falsely claiming it had been “rigged and stolen.” He heavily leaned on a tendentious investigation by a now-defunct organization handpicked by his allies in the state, falsely suggesting it had identified enough fraudulent ballots to have given him a win.

    The golf-course owner and former reality TV host, who remains the Republican party’s most popular figure, was joined on stage by a variety of politicians who have endorsed the “big lie” that Trump won the last presidential election, including candidates for Arizona governor and secretary of state. According to reporting from the scene, the 15,000 person audience included supporters who believe he could retake the White House before January 2025, the next scheduled presidential inauguration.

    The morning of the event, Steve Bannon, the president’s former campaign manager and senior advisor, explained that the rally was intended to put pressure on Arizona’s elected officials to “decertify” the state’s 2020 electoral votes—part of a nationwide campaign targeting other swing states where President Joe Biden narrowly won.

    This week, it emerged that the National Archives received formal submissions from GOP officials in seven states—among them, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—falsely claiming Trump won their electoral votes. News of the documents prompted calls, including from Michigan’s attorney general, for federal investigators to launch forgery or fraud inquiries.

    While the Justice Department has launched hundreds of prosecutions targeting Trump supporters who engaged in acts of violence or illegally entered the Capitol during the January 6, 2021 riot, it has given no clear public indication that it is examining the actions of political figures who worked to create a false legal pretense to aid Trump’s efforts to hold on to power. Trump’s rally, the first of many he’s expected to hold in support of Republican candidates in the 2022 elections, is part of a plan to install allies in key positions ahead of a potential 2024 run—allies that could help him emerge on top, even if voters reject him once again.


  40. says

    Novak Djokovic deported, won’t compete in Australian Open after bid to play unvaccinated fails.

    Washington Post link

    Tennis star Novak Djokovic has left Australia after losing his legal challenge to remain in the country and compete in the Australian Open despite not being vaccinated against the coronavirus.

    Djokovic departed Australia at 10:39 p.m. local time, on an Emirates flight to Dubai.

    After a weekend of hurried court hearings, a panel of three Australian federal justices unanimously upheld the immigration minister’s decision to cancel the unvaccinated athlete’s visa on the grounds that his presence in the country might incite anti-vaccine sentiment and “civil unrest,” clearing the way for the country to deport him and ending his hopes of competing in the Australian Open. […]

  41. says

    I’ll 🧵#tsunami footage here

    First up: the massive set that kissed my front door – these waves are no joke and still rolling in. Some even bigger.

    Images and video snippets of the tsunami waves reaching the West Coast of the United States.

    1 to 3 foot surges.

    The National Weather Service issued a tsunami advisory for coastal areas of California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, a lower threat level than a warning but still signaling a tsunami capable of generating strong currents and dangerous waves. The agency ruled out “widespread inundation” but nonetheless urged caution.

    “If you are located in this coastal area, move off the beach and out of harbors and marinas,” the Weather Service advised people along the West Coast.

  42. says

    Russia Issues Subtle Threats More Far-Reaching Than a Ukraine Invasion.

    New York Times link

    If the West fails to meet its security demands, Moscow could take measures like placing nuclear missiles close to the U.S. coastline, Russian officials have hinted.

    No one expected much progress from this past week’s diplomatic marathon to defuse the security crisis Russia has ignited in Eastern Europe by surrounding Ukraine on three sides with 100,000 troops and then, by the White House’s accounting, sending in saboteurs to create a pretext for invasion.

    But as the Biden administration and NATO conduct tabletop simulations about how the next few months could unfold, they are increasingly wary of another set of options for President Vladimir V. Putin, steps that are more far-reaching than simply rolling his troops and armor over Ukraine’s border.

    Mr. Putin wants to extend Russia’s sphere of influence to Eastern Europe and secure written commitments that NATO will never again enlarge. If he is frustrated in reaching that goal, some of his aides suggested on the sidelines of the negotiations last week, then he would pursue Russia’s security interests with results that would be felt acutely in Europe and the United States.

    There were hints, never quite spelled out, that nuclear weapons could be shifted to places — perhaps not far from the United States coastline — that would reduce warning times after a launch to as little as five minutes, potentially igniting a confrontation with echoes of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. […]

  43. says

    dear SC (Salty Current) I took time to read carefully and I need to thank you for your timely and thorough contributions
    Also, this a.m. read that preparations for tsunami were important even though west coast of u.s. only saw 1 foot wave per a friend who lives in L.A. beach area.
    Sadly, I live in Arizona and it is dangerously over-run by ‘toxic red-neck wasps’! (I love the land. But, I hate the murderous idiots running the state)

  44. says

    Guardian (link @ #60 above, now updated) – “Texas synagogue siege: hostage-taker named as 44-year-old Briton”:

    A man who died after taking four people hostage at a Texas synagogue has been named by the FBI as 44-year-old British national Malik Faisal Akram….

    Flew in, bought a gun, chose the synagogue because it was nearest the airport.

  45. stroppy says

    StevoR @48

    There’s a tendency in this country to view the military as corrective to problem people, usually young people, as it aims to strip them down to their essentials and remold and homogenize them to conform to its purposes.

    Glorifying the military industrial complex as a solution to the worlds ailments is as American as football and apple pie. After all, we militarize the police, so why not the prison guards? That and the judge sounds senile.

  46. says

    HuffPo – “Reconstruction-Era Law Could Keep Trump Off Presidential Ballot In 6 Southern States”:

    Should former President Donald Trump run for the White House again, an obscure Reconstruction-era law could keep him off the ballot in six southern states, including North Carolina, Georgia and Florida, because of his incitement of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

    The third section of the 14th Amendment prohibits people who swore to defend the Constitution, but who subsequently took part in an insurrection against the United States, from holding state or federal office. Other language in that post-Civil War amendment, though, makes many experts believe that only Congress can enforce the ban, which means Senate Republicans could block any such action.

    But the 1868 law that readmitted the six states put the burden on them to keep those who have been involved in insurrections from seeking office — potentially making it considerably easier to keep Trump off their primary and general election ballots.

    “It’s still on the books,” said Gerard Magliocca, a law professor at Indiana University who studies the Reconstruction period. He added that the language could help those seeking to disqualify Trump and other candidates who appeared to encourage the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol. “The law is still there. And it could be appealed to.”

    The six states affected by the 1868 law — North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida — together have 88 electoral votes, or 33% of the total needed to win the presidency. Trump won all of them in 2020 except for Georgia, which he lost by 12,000 votes.

    Ron Fein, whose Free Speech For People group is already challenging North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s attempt to seek reelection because of his participation in the Jan. 6 pre-riot rally, said that the constitutional ban on insurrectionists running for office applies everywhere, and the 1868 law merely helps explain what Congress meant.

    “Whether you’re in Maine or Mississippi or Alabama, the 14th Amendment applies,” he said. “Maybe there’s more clarity in these states.”

    Fein likened the insurrection disqualification to existing exclusions in the Constitution, such as the way age and citizenship would disqualify a 12-year-old who lived in another country from running for federal office. “Does anyone seriously think that that person should be allowed on the ballot? I don’t think so,” he said.

    The former president was impeached for inciting an insurrection by the House, but not enough Republicans in the Senate voted to convict him, arguing that they did not have the authority because Trump was no longer president. Had they done so, a simple majority vote could then have banned Trump from holding federal office for the rest of his life.

    “It would have been great if Congress had already taken care of this,” Fein said, but added that he and his group plan to lodge 14th Amendment complaints wherever possible against those involved with the Jan. 6 attack, especially against Trump. “We fully intend to pursue this type of challenge if Mr. Trump chooses to run.”

    Fein said that the 1868 law’s language does not so much create a different standard for office-holders in those six states as it does illustrate that lawmakers then — the same ones who passed the 14th Amendment — wanted all states to enforce its anti-insurrectionist restriction.

    In fact, the existence of that law makes it easier to make an insurrection-based disqualification argument against candidates in the remaining 44 states and the District of Columbia, Fein said. “This adds clarity and maybe helps dispel arguments,” he said.

    Cawthorn, a first-term Republican who denies he encouraged an insurrection, is the first participant in Trump’s Jan. 6 rally to face a qualification challenge, but almost certainly will not be the last.

    Fein said the filing in North Carolina was based on the primary election schedule there — it was to be held in March, but now has been pushed to May because of a redistricting lawsuit — but that other challenges are likely elsewhere.

    “We fully intend for this to be the first of several,” he said.

    He declined to provide names, but a number of GOP lawmakers also spoke at the Jan. 6 rally and worked to push Trump’s scheme to hold onto power despite losing the election.

    Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, for example, asked members of the Jan. 6 rally crowd if they were ready to sacrifice their lives, as their ancestors had done: “Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America?” he screamed. “The fight begins today.”

    Whatever their level of responsibility might be for the mayhem and violence that happened shortly thereafter at the Capitol, though, necessarily pales in comparison to Trump’s culpability.

    Fein, Orr and others expect that a 14th Amendment disqualification challenge based on Jan. 6 could ultimately go to the U.S. Supreme Court. “We know that this could be potentially complicated,” Fein said.

    In the meantime, the challenge against Cawthorn could yield more firsthand testimony about the planning for and events of Jan. 6, 2021.

    Because once the North Carolina State Board of Elections has determined that a challenge, on its face, has enough evidence to go forward, the burden then shifts to the candidate to prove qualification, which could involve having to testify under oath.

    That ordeal could be Cawthorn’s to face in the coming weeks — and then Trump’s, should he decide to run for president in 2024.

    “Was there an insurrection against the constitutional order? Yes,” said Orr. “The evidence against Trump is obviously overwhelmingly more than there is for Cawthorn.”

  47. birgerjohansson says

    This link is not targeted at ordinary muslims of today, but at the wankers who claim everything was hunky-dory when the prophet was alive.
    “Prophet’s friend sharing wives like candy”
    I remind you, the prophet behind this practice married a child bride aged 6 or 7 and consummated the marriage when she was nine. Religion – the basis of morality!

  48. birgerjohansson says

    Goddamit, there has been a second big eruption at Tonga.
    If the cautious optimism turns out to be justified we should see a big reduction of the virus in spring/early summer and -while taking appropriate precautions- be able to walk about almost as normal.
    Tove Styrke – Start Walking

  49. KG says

    I remind you, the prophet behind this practice married a child bride aged 6 or 7 and consummated the marriage when she was nine. – birgirjohansson@80

    This is by no means established fact. Its source is a single hadith. Other hadiths state that Muhammad performed various miracles, and the Quran itself claims he travelled from Mecca to Jerusalem in a single night. If you’re going to take Islam’s religious writings as authoritative, you’d better convert, as they undoubtedly imply that we unbelievers are hell-bound.

  50. says

    AP – “A closer look at the case of Aafia Siddiqui, jailed in Texas”:

    …The woman whose freedom was sought, Aafia Siddiqui, is serving an 86-year prison sentence after being convicted in Manhattan in 2010 on charges that she sought to shoot U.S. military officers while being detained in Afghanistan two years earlier.

    For the Justice Department, which had accused Siddiqui of being an al-Qaida operative, it was a significant conviction in the fight against international extremism. But to her supporters, many of whom believed in her innocence, the case embodied what they saw as an overzealous post Sept. 11-American judicial system.

    Inside an interview room at an Afghan police compound, authorities say, she grabbed the M-4 rifle of a U.S. Army officer and opened fire on members of the U.S. team assigned to interrogate her.

    She was convicted in 2010 on charges including attempting to kill U.S. nationals outside the United States. At her sentencing hearing, she gave rambling statements in which she delivered a message of world peace — and also forgave the judge. She expressed frustration at arguments from her own lawyers who said she deserved leniency because she was mentally ill.

    “I’m not paranoid,” she said at one point. “I don’t agree with that.”

    Pakistani officials immediately decried the punishment, which prompted protests in multiple cities and criticism in the media.

    The prime minister at the time, Yousuf Raza Gilani, called her the “daughter of the nation” and vowed to campaign for her release from jail.

    In the years since, Pakistani leaders have openly floated the idea of swaps or deals that could result in her release.

    Faizan Syed, executive director of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said the group considers Siddiqui to have been “caught in the war on terror” as well as a political prisoner who was wrongly accused through flawed evidence. He nonetheless strongly condemned the hostage-taking, calling it wrong, heinous and “something that is completely undermining our efforts to get Dr. Aaifa released.”

    She has also garnered support from accused militants in the United States. An Ohio man who admitted he plotted to kill U.S. military members after receiving training in Syria also planned to fly to Texas and attack the federal prison where Siddiqui is being held in an attempt to free her. The man, Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, was sentenced in 2018 to 22 years in prison.

    Siddiqui is being held at a federal prison in Fort Worth. She was attacked in July by another inmate at the facility and suffered serious injuries, according to court documents.

    In a lawsuit against the federal Bureau of Prisons, Siddiqui’s lawyers said another inmate “smashed a coffee mug filled with scaling hot liquid” into her face. When Siddiqui curled herself into a fetal position, the other woman began to punch and kick her, leaving her with injuries so severe that she needed to be taken by wheelchair to the prison’s medical unit, the suit says.

    Siddiqui was left with burns around her eyes and a three-inch scar near her left eye, the lawsuit says. She also suffered bruises on her arms and legs and an injury to her cheek.

    The attack prompted protests by human rights activists and religious groups and calls for improved prison conditions. The activists have also called on the Pakistani government to fight for her release from U.S. custody.

  51. says

    I’ve only listened to this one episode of this podcast, but it was worthwhile.

    The Hated and the Dead – “Eric Zemmour”:

    Eric Zemmour is a French journalist and independent candidate for the French presidency. April’s presidential election looks to be a race exclusively between right-wing candidates such as Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen and Valerie Pecresse. None, however, are as right-wing as Zemmour, who looks poised to bring the already simmering tensions between the French state and French Muslims to new heights, regardless of whether he is elected or not. My guest for this conversation is Aurelien Mondon, lecturer in politics at the University of Bath and author of Reactionary Democracy (@aurelmondon on Twitter).

  52. says

    Guardian – “World’s 10 richest men see their wealth double during Covid pandemic”:

    The 10 richest men in the world have seen their global wealth double to $1.5tn (£1.01tn) since the start of the global pandemic following a surge in share and property prices that has widened the gap between rich and poor, according to a report from Oxfam.

    Urging governments to impose a one-off 99% wealth tax on Covid-19 windfall gains, the charity said World Bank figures showed 163 million more people had been driven below the poverty line while the super-rich were benefiting from the stimulus provided by governments around the world to mitigate the impact of the virus.

    Oxfam projects that by 2030, 3.3 billion people will be living on less than $5.50 per day.

    The charity said the incomes of 99% of the world’s population had reduced from March 2020 to October 2021, when Elon Musk, the founder of the electric car company Tesla, and the other nine richest billionaires had been collectively growing wealthier by $1.3bn a day.

    The charity urged governments to levy taxes on capital and wealth in a report – Inequality Kills – intended to coincide with the now-postponed gathering of the global elite at the World Economic Forum in Davos….

  53. says

    More re #61, from the Guardian’s Monday morning briefing – “Monday briefing: PM turns on BBC as ‘Partygate’ pressure mounts”:

    Top story: No-confidence letters piling up

    The prime minister has dealt a serious blow to the BBC’s funding in what critics say is a diversionary tactic to escape accountability for the “Partygate” revelations. With reports that dozens of Tory backbenchers have written letters of no-confidence, Boris Johnson ally Nadine Dorries said the BBC’s licence fee would be abolished in 2027 and the broadcaster’s funding frozen for the next two years, potentially leading to thousands of redundancies.

    Other measures under what has been called Operation Red Meat are said to involve a renewed drive to stop people crossing the Channel in small boats, measures to tackle the NHS operations backlog, extra investment in skills and the lifting of Covid restrictions on 26 January….

  54. says

    Criminal Attorney General in Texas is found to have committed even more crimes:

    If there were a competition for the most scandal-plagued elected official in the United States, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton would likely be leading the pack — which made it all the more extraordinary when the Republican’s troubles managed to get worse last week.

    Paxton was already under indictment on felony securities fraud charges when, in October 2020, members of his own team made multiple criminal allegations against him. About a year ago, FBI agents arrived at Paxton’s door — as a rule, that’s not a good sign for any politician — and soon after, the Texas bar association launched an investigation into Paxton’s alleged professional misconduct.

    Paxton nevertheless announced that he’s running for a third term. Donald Trump, whose tolerance of corruption has few rivals, has endorsed the state attorney general. (Paxton chaired Lawyers for Trump during the 2020 campaign.)

    [Paxton’s] work in support of the former president opened a whole new chapter in Paxton-related scandals. It was, after all, the Lone Star State’s attorney general who tried to get the U.S. Supreme Court to help overturn Trump’s defeat in December 2020.

    Soon after, Paxton was in the nation’s capital, which as The Texas Tribune reported, has become the basis for yet another controversy.

    The Travis County district attorney on Thursday found that Attorney General Ken Paxton violated the state’s open records law by not turning over his communications from last January when he visited Washington, D.C., for a pro-Trump rally that preceded the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

    In this case, editors at Texas’ five largest newspapers argued several months ago that under the state’s open-records law, Paxton was required to disclose materials — including emails and texts — related to his January 2021 trip to D.C. The state attorney general ignored the journalists’ request, so they went to local law enforcement.

    The Texas Tribune report added that Jackie Wood, the director of public integrity and complex crimes at the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, concluded that Paxton had, in fact, broken the state open-records law and “hand-delivered her ruling in a letter to Paxton’s office.”

    In case this isn’t obvious, Paxton wasn’t just some random tourist in the nation’s capital early last year. On the contrary, the Texas Republican was literally one of the speakers at Trump’s pre-riot rally. It’s one of the reasons the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack has taken an interest in Paxton’s efforts.

    The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent helped explain how outlandish the circumstances are.

    What makes this so remarkable is that the office of Paxton, as attorney general, is supposed to be the party enforcing this open records law. But Texas law also offers the option of going to the Travis County prosecutor to allege that a state agency (in this case, Paxton’s) is in violation. That’s what happened here. Underscoring the absurdity of this, one transparency expert told the Houston Chronicle that he could not recall another example of an attorney general being accused of violating the law to keep his own communications out of the public eye.

    If Paxton ignores the Travis County District Attorney’s Office’s findings, it’s prepared to sue the state attorney general. Watch this space.


  55. says


    […] From [Trump’s] remarks:

    “They never talk about that crowd. They talk about the people that walked down to the Capitol. They don’t talk about the size of that crowd. I believe it was the largest crowd I’ve ever spoken before. And they were there to protest the election…. I think it was the largest crowd I’ve ever, and the fake news never talks about it. They never talk about it.”

    One year after the riot, after having time to reflect on the events, Trump has identified what he considers the truly important detail about the events of Jan. 6, 2021. The fatalities? The insurrectionist intent? The alleged crimes? The defilement of our seat of government? The attempts to use violence to reject our system of democracy?

    No, what really weighs on the former president is the degree to which “they” fail to acknowledge the size of the crowd that appeared in the nation’s capital in advance of the riot.

    […] “Massive numbers. They don’t cover the numbers of people,” Trump said of his Jan. 6 audience. “They always show the Capitol with a very small, just a tiny percentage of the people that were there. They never show helicopter pictures of that incredible crowd because it was the largest crowd I’ve ever spoken before. I’ve never had a crowd — I’ve never seen a crowd that big.”

    He added, “You know what that number was, right? And I don’t even talk about that. And they don’t talk about it…. “[This was] the biggest crowd I’ve ever — and I’ve spoken before the biggest crowds — the biggest crowd I’ve ever spoken by far. By numerous times, I think.

    For good measure, the former president went on to say, “Why don’t they show the real crowd that was there on Jan. 6? The crowd of people that was the biggest I’ve ever seen. I haven’t seen any — you can hardly get a picture. We’re trying to find pictures. They have censored the pictures. They don’t want to show that crowd because that shows what it was all about. They were there over a rigged election.”

    First, the election wasn’t rigged.

    Second, the crowd at the Ellipse on Jan. 6 was nowhere near a million people.

    Third, there is no nefarious group, identified only as “they,” conspiring behind the scenes to hide evidence of his crowd size. […]


  56. tomh says

    The Atlantic
    How Manchin and Sinema Completed a Conservative Vision
    A nationwide standard of voting rights now seems like a pipe dream.
    By Ronald Brownstein

    The decision by Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin to block their fellow Democrats from passing new federal voting-rights legislation clears the path for years of tightening ballot restrictions in Republican-controlled states. It also marks a resounding triumph for Chief Justice John Roberts in his four-decade quest to roll back the federal government’s role in protecting voter rights.

    Roberts as much as anyone set in motion the events that have led to this week’s climactic Senate confrontation over voting legislation. In a series of rulings over the past 15 years, the Supreme Court, often in decisions written by Roberts himself, has consistently weakened federal oversight of voter protections and struck down federal regulations meant to reduce the influence of money in politics. Almost all of those decisions have unfolded on a strict party-line basis, with the Republican-appointed justices outvoting those appointed by Democrats.

    Those decisions have had an enormous practical impact on the rules for American elections. But many voting-rights advocates say that the rulings have been equally important in sending a signal to Republican-controlled states that the Supreme Court majority is unlikely to stand in their way if they impose new restrictions on voting or extreme partisan gerrymanders in congressional and state legislative districts.

    “We’re going to see a new wave of [state] legislation that is just as dangerous as what we’ve seen [so far] and that is going to create additional barriers to the ballot,” Deborah Archer, an NYU School of Law professor and the president of the American Civil Liberties Union, told me.

    As the Harvard Law School professor Nicholas Stephanopoulos, an expert in voting law, wrote in a 2019 law-review article, “The Roberts Court has … never nullified a law making it harder to vote.” To the contrary, in a series of landmark decisions, it has nullified efforts to ensure voter access, combat gerrymanders, and to limit political contributions and spending.

    “There’s no consistent explanation that can account for Roberts’s rulings in election-law cases other than just a partisan motive,” Stephanopoulos, echoing the view of many critics, told me. “Intervene when it’s restrictions on money in politics; don’t intervene when it’s partisan gerrymandering or voting restrictions. Intervene again when it’s Congress trying to do something about racial vote suppression or racial vote dilution. Sometimes mention the Framers, sometimes don’t mention the Framers. It’s anything goes as long as the final outcome is the preferred partisan outcome.”

    With crucial help from Manchin and Sinema, Roberts’s triumph now appears complete. And that could trigger a decade of struggle over access to the ballot, unmatched since the days of Jim Crow segregation.

    Much more at the link.

  57. says

    Training police to violently assault protestors:

    Portland, Oregon’s mayor announced just before the weekend that the city’s police department is investigating itself over a training presentation featuring a meme encouraging cops to use violence against left-wing protesters.

    The meme shows an officer in riot gear beating a protester described as a “dirty hippy.” The message, addressed to demonstrators in the form of mock Bible verses, suggests officers would “christen your heads with hickory, And anoint your faces with pepper spray.”

    “And once thou hast been cuffed and stuffed; Once thou hast been stitched and bandaged,” it continued, “Perhaps thou shall learn, I’m tired of your shit. Amen.” [One image of a training slide is available at the link. It is even worse than I have documented here.]

    The department said it began looking into the training presentation in September after the image was discovered during a legal review. But it wasn’t until late on Friday that Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office alerted the public and published the presentation, noting that it would soon be released in the course of a lawsuit over the city’s response to racial justice protests in the summer of 2020.

    The mayor condemned the meme. “I am disgusted that this offensive content was added to a training presentation for our police officers,” Wheeler said in a statement on Friday. Chief Chuck Lovell insisted the violent message was “not representative of the Portland Police Bureau, and it is disappointing to all of us who work so hard to earn the community’s trust.”

    The presentation appeared to have been created in 2018 as part of an effort to train officers who would work protests in the famously liberal city.

    2018! So this is not some throwback to a 1970s police force. It is recent.

    Wheeler’s office said it was unclear who had included the meme, which concluded the slideshow, or whether it was displayed during formal trainings. But Portland police have a lengthy history of violent confrontations with demonstrators. In 2020, amid nationwide protests following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, Portland cops used weapons against civilians more than 2,500 times, according to an analysis by data scientist Samuel Sinyangwe and other researchers. They found the department used more less-lethal force per arrest than 96 percent of the departments they analyzed. […]


  58. says

    Newly Released Documents Show Just How Much Trump Officials Meddled With the Census

    Former president Donald Trump made no secret of his interest in meddling with the 2020 Census. But newly released documents show the extraordinary measures his political appointees took to alter the outcome—and the strong pushback they encountered from Census Bureau career staff.

    An accurate and total count of all people living in the country every 10 years is one of the few government functions explicitly described in the Constitution, and the outcomes of the Census determine everything from congressional representation to how federal aid is distributed. With the 2020 election fast approaching and a pandemic making it even more difficult to complete, the Trump administration began pressuring Census officials to wrap up their counting early—a decision that could have potentially benefited the GOP and Trump if the final count failed to capture certain harder-to-measure demographics like immigrants.

    In the summer of 2020, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University began trying to use the Freedom of Information Act to obtain details of just how these decisions were being made, and after their requests were denied, filed a lawsuit. The Brennan Center won the suit, and Thursday it released a large cache of documents. It includes a detailed memo from top Census officials outlining very specific tactics that Trump’s political appointees used to try to sabotage an accurate Census. In a statement accompanying the release of documents, the Brennan Center said the documents “suggest that the Trump administration attempted to exert extreme partisan influence over the Census Bureau.”

    Specifically, the memo circulated by Census officials—compiled as part of a plan to approach Trump’s Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross (who oversaw the Census)—complains that there had been an “unusually high degree of engagement in technical matters, which is unprecedented.” Or, put more simply, administration officials were meddling in the most fundamental inner workings of a complex and finely tuned process in ways that had never been seen before. Political appointees tried to influence the way the Census Bureau counted people, processed the data, avoided disclosing private information, counted citizens, and calculated undocumented populations. Basically everything the Census Bureau undertakes.

    […] a plan was in place to have Ross call GOP state governors and have them provide their own data to help determine how to count immigrant populations (while not making a similar effort with Democratic governors). Documents also show that new political appointees joined the Census as late as August 2020 as the election loomed, and the new officials were apparently solely interested in affecting how citizenship data was calculated.

    Other documents show that when the administration ordered the Census to curtail the count and use new methodologies to fill in the details, Census officials argued back, pointing out the statistical and legal shortcomings of the Trump-proposed methods. The documents show that while Trump political appointees at the Bureau did not seem to be interested in career officials’ concerns about the process, there was direct contact between Ross and the executive director of an anti-immigration group and Commerce Department employees talking with employees of the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank.

  59. says

    It’s a whole pile of bullshit. It’s a fuck ton of crazy.

    In celebration of Martin Luther King Day, [Trump] is honoring the real victims of racism: white people.

    “The left is now rationing life-saving therapeutics based on race, discriminating against and denigrating, just denigrating white people to determine who lives and who dies,” Donald Trump said at his pitchfork rally in Arizona on Saturday.

    “It’s unbelievable to think this,” he continued. […]

    As Insider notes, this appears to be an extended riff on a Wall Street Journal opinion piece decrying New York State guidelines for dispensing antivirals, which are in very short supply during the omicron surge. Among many other health factors, “Non-white race or Hispanic/Latino ethnicity should be considered a risk factor, as longstanding systemic health and social inequities have contributed to an increased risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.”

    And this, unlike the former president’s freeform arglebargle, is actually true. Black and Hispanic people are roughly twice as likely to die from coronavirus as white people. So if care has to be rationed, it is entirely logical to give it to a patient with double the risk of dying from a disease Trump and his followers insist is just like the flu anyway.

    But the piece’s authors, John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira, neither of whom appears to have any background in epidemiology or immunology, confidently wave away this statistical reality by invoking “the laid-off auto worker” — presumably white — who “might also deserve some consideration from the New York health officials.”

    They also suggest, bizarrely, that the authors of studies demonstrating higher death rates for non-whites are biased because they don’t control for “class factors.”

    “Clearly then, the observed disparities in vaccination rates between Blacks and whites have a lot to do with the higher noncollege proportion among the Black population,” they write, seemingly oblivious of the fact that the antivirals in question are only available to unvaccinated people who test positive for the disease.

    Back at the Trump rally, though, these details were irrelevant. The once and future political candidate had a race war to flog, and he wasn’t going to let a little thing like objective reality get in his way.

    “If you’re white, you don’t get the vaccine,” he said, adding a layer of pure horseshit over an already distorted version of reality. Literally no one is rationing vaccines based on race. The country is awash in vaccines, and thanks to Trump’s minions, tens of millions of eligible adults won’t take them. Or they won’t take the boosters because they believe two shots are fine, but the third shot is where Bill Gates hides the microchip that makes you infertile.

    “Black people don’t want it. White people don’t want it. Nobody wants it!” he shouted, against a backdrop of strategically situated “Blacks for Trump.” […] “It’s not even believable,” he repeated, like a tic. “You saw this come out a week ago it came out. Nobody can even believe it.”


    “And they don’t want to talk about it, because they know it doesn’t work very well for them,” he said, which is a weird way to describe published New York Department of Health guidance. “But the Wall Street Journal described the practice. Race-based, preferential COVID treatment, so that’s what it is. You get it based on race.”

    “In New York state, if you’re white, you have to go to the back of the line to get medical help. Think of it! If you’re white, you go right to the back of the line,” he said without apparent irony on a weekend where we celebrate the civil rights victories by people who literally had to go to the back of the bus and drink from a separate water fountain.

    And while we’re on the subject of clanging irony, let’s not forget that Trump himself got that monoclonal antibody cocktail when it was an experimental treatment, not widely available to the general public. And he made sure that Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani, and Ben Carson got it, too. At a time when some hospitals were using a lottery to allocate the lifesaving antibodies, some people were able to jump right to the front of the line based on no risk factors at all. Their proximity to the president was enough.

    So maybe spare us the bullshit about poor whites being forced to sit on the back of the COVID bus.

    Of course, this is all Trump has: race war now, race war tomorrow, race war forever.


  60. says

    Hillary Clinton:

    MLK Jr. said: “I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice, and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.” This is a subtweet.

    An excerpt from commentary by Wonkette:

    […] Sinema runs from her constituents and seemingly dismisses outside pressure from anyone but her donors. Dr. King condemned the white moderate who prioritized unjust laws and arbitrary rules over human dignity. He regrettably concluded that the white moderate was a greater obstacle than the “White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner.” That sentiment expressed today might shock and appall modern white moderates, but it’s a fitting posthumous indictment of Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, and so many others who prefer “civility” to justice.


  61. says

    Despite my many British-focused comments above, today’s Wordle took me five tries.

    Could’ve gotten it in three, but refused to accept it as a possible answer until I had exhausted all other options.


  62. says

    Related to #84 above – Guardian – “Far-right French presidential candidate found guilty of racist hate speech”:

    A French court has found the far-right presidential candidate Éric Zemmour guilty of racist hate speech for a tirade against unaccompanied child migrants.

    Zemmour drew widespread outrage in September 2020 when he told the CNews channel that child migrants were “thieves, killers, they’re rapists. That’s all they are. We should send them back.”

    Zemmour, a media pundit who is struggling to assemble the endorsements from elected officials he needs to compete in April’s presidential vote, did not show up in court to hear the verdict, having already skipped his trial in November.

    The court fined him €10,000 (£8,350) in daily instalments of €100 over 100 days. He could be jailed if he fails to pay the sum. Zemmour’s lawyer, Olivier Pardo, said he would appeal against the verdict.

    Last year, Zemmour claimed the case was “nothing other than another attempt to intimidate me”, saying “they won’t shut me up”.

    The far-right journalist and author has two previous convictions for hate speech and has been investigated 16 times in total over incendiary remarks on immigration and Islam….

  63. says

    The Atlantic – “The Silent, Vaccinated, Impatient Majority”:

    Politicians rarely set out to piss off their constituents, much less admit to doing so. So when French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his desire to antagonize France’s unvaccinated citizens into receiving COVID vaccinations, observers and many of his rivals were appalled, and some were a bit confused. Macron is up for reelection in April, and a quarter of his country remains unimmunized.

    But what looked like a risky move for Macron could prove to be a more politically shrewd calculation, not because of whom it alienates, but rather because of whom it doesn’t. In France, and in other democratic countries around the world, the unvaccinated make up a relatively small segment of the population. Macron and his peers in countries such as Australia and Italy have calculated that condemning this group could be more politically effective than pandering to it. Even world-famous celebrities such as tennis star Novak Djokovic, whose unvaccinated status dashed his hopes of defending his Australian Open title, have become the targets of politicians’ ire. By taking a tougher line on the unvaccinated, Macron and other democratically elected leaders facing elections this year may be courting an energetic new voter base: the vaccinated, and ever more impatient, majority.

    For all of the attention that has been paid to the growing political cleavage between the jabbed and the jabless, getting vaccinated is extremely popular in countries where vaccines are widely available. Countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Spain, and Canada have vaccination rates as high as 94 percent, 81 percent, and 79 percent, respectively, without blanket vaccine mandates. To put this popularity into perspective: More Britons have gotten vaccinated (47 million) than watched the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy (31 million). In the United States, being vaccinated is more common than drinking coffee, owning a television, or even watching the Super Bowl.

    It stands to reason, then, that politicians would seek to use this popular issue to their political advantage….

    More at the link.

  64. says

    David Neiwert at Daily Kos – “Police officials’ amplification of ‘antifa bus’ hoax rumors in summer 2020 bodes ill for future”:

    The infamous “antifa buses” hoax that hit multiple rural and exurban communities in the summer of 2020 was in many regards a series of comical events, with pickup-driving, banner-waving, gun-toting “Patriots” swarming their towns in futility because they believed an army of black-clad leftists were en route to lay waste to their communities. It all had the feel of a practice run for the civil war that so many of them eagerly anticipate.

    Its most disturbing aspect, however, was the role and behavior of law enforcement throughout the episode, as well as in subsequent similar hoaxes a few months later involving supposed “antifa arsons” along the West Coast—namely, giving the hoax rumors official imprimatur by spreading them on social media and in police communications with other offices. That behavior was made clear in documents published last year, which revealed the extensive role of local and state police in spreading the panic in northern California.

    These incidents all vividly demonstrate the ability of law enforcement and other official authorities to inflame hoax-driven hysteria and potentially create violence in their communities. Their propensity for gullibility in the hoaxes also reflects their own sympathies with right-wing extremist conspiracism, an outgrowth of the growing problem of radicalization among law enforcement.

    Michael Brennan, a national-security expert with the Brennan Justice Center, told Levin that the behavior of California police amid the hoax rumors was dangerous on multiple levels. Using a photo of a specific van while warning officers to “be on the lookout” could have “resulted in serious harm to people who are driving that kind of bus when there was no evidence that anybody has done anything wrong,” German said. “Based on the vagueness of the rumor, it’s hard to imagine why they would have deployed those tactical resources,” he added.

    Moreover, these incidents illustrate how pervasive right-wing ideologies have become within American police agencies, German observed. Departments have repeatedly shared baseless claims about antifa or BLM endangering them, he said, but have downplayed or ignored real threats to their safety, whether from COVID or far-right extremists such as sovereign citizens, who have an extensive track record of lethal attacks on officers.

    “Something that really does kill police officers is treated as not a problem, while imaginary threats are treated as real,” German said.

    The same dynamic played out later in the summer of 2020, when similar hoax rumors on social media claimed that “antifa arsonists” were secretly behind the wave of wildfires that were then ravaging the West Coast. Once again, rural areas were subjected to clusters of heavily armed men roaming their towns and even setting up vigilante checkpoints along roadways—all while being encouraged and enabled by local law-enforcement officers.

    This has contributed to the growing environment of fear and intimidation from right-wing extremists in America’s rural precincts for anyone who fails to enthusiastically embrace their conspiracist and eliminationist politics—particularly as they ratchet up their violent “when do we get to use the guns?” rhetoric, eagerly anticipating their long-desired violent civil war in which they fantasize that they will get to mow down their political enemies.

    What we saw in the summer of 2020, however, also makes clear that anyone hoping that normative law enforcement might somehow restrain them should be prepared to be disappointed, if not ultimately betrayed.

    Much more at the link.

  65. tomh says

    There are two oral arguments scheduled for the Supreme Court tomorrow. The first, Shurtleff v. City of Boston, is a First Amendment challenge of a private religious organization that was denied access to briefly display its flag on a city flagpole designated as a public forum with hundreds of approvals. It will be interesting to see what this religious-friendly court decides. The legal issues are detailed here.

    The second case, Cassirer v. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation, will decide the rights to a Pissarro painting stolen by the Nazis during WWII, now worth $40 million. The case has been in the courts for 15 years before finally reaching SCOTUS, and will turn on the technical question of whether state, federal, or Spanish law applies. The history and legal issues are explained here.
    Oral arguments can be heard live here.

  66. birgerjohansson says

    A six-year-old boy in the province of Sindh turned out to have two hearts, one on each side.
    This is fun, since a holy book by a well-known prophet stated Allah does not give a man two hearts. I suppose the kid is not human, but some demon in disguise.
    Good news, the second eruption at Tonga seems not to have created tsunamis.

  67. says

    So I’m quite angry about this new WaPo article by Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli, to which I won’t link – “When being unvaccinated means being locked out of public life”:


    After many rounds of rules targeting the unvaccinated, the chamber musician’s new life is unrecognizable from the old.

    This isn’t about fucking rules. Don’t start with the fucking rules. The rules are because of the virus. All of our lives are unrecognizable from the old. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic – a highly contagious respiratory illness that turns all of us into potential disease vectors and victims. Articles about anyone’s situation need to begin with this reality and with a fact-based discussion of the effectiveness of vaccines and other public health measures.

    Claudio Ronco once performed all over Europe, but now he can’t even board a plane. He can’t check into a hotel, eat at restaurant or get a coffee at a bar. Most important, he can’t use the water taxis needed to get around Venice, his home for 30 years — a loss of mobility that recently prompted him to gather up two of his prized cellos, lock up his Venetian apartment and retreat with his wife to a home owned by his in-laws one hour away in the hills.

    “Isolation,” Ronco called it, on the fourth day in a row that he hadn’t left the house.

    First, again, this has affected everyone, and has hit the arts especially hard. It’s a pandemic. Second, boo fucking hoo. Billions of people, including those he expects to serve him in these locales, can’t protect themselves from exposure to this virus. Get a goddamn vaccine, you selfish nitwit.

    At this complicated stage of the pandemic, the lives of unvaccinated people are in major flux, at the mercy of decisions made everywhere from courts to workplaces.

    All of our lives are in major flux, exacerbated by people’s choices not to get vaccinated. And in Italy he can make his case in the political realm. I’m so tired of this presentation of anti-vaxxers as passive, marginalized, excluded resisters. They don’t have facts or science on their side. They’re wrong. This should matter in a news article!

    But their lives are changing most dramatically in a handful of countries in Western Europe, including Italy, where governments are systematically reducing their liberties, while beginning to return the rest of society to a state of normalcy.


    And while regular testing, until recently, was permitted as an alternative to vaccination, even that option has now been largely removed as countries harden their mandates. For people like Ronco, the choice is to get inoculated or face exclusion.

    So hard! So terrible! Why would anyone enact such policies? Oh, yeah – the pandemic!

    Ronco, 66, knows some people who have relented


    including a fellow musician with three kids and a mortgage. He knows others who are scrambling for hard-to-get medical exemptions. But Ronco — an Orthodox Jew and a specialist in 18th-century music who tends to distrust the trends of the masses

    Good god.

    — figures this is an instance when he can try to withstand the mounting pressure. His savings are thinning, but not gone. His children are grown. His wife, Emanuela Vozza, a fellow cellist, also unvaccinated, feels as he does. So day after day, his resistance has continued: A musician who once played at Milan’s famed La Scala has been instead working alongside Vozza, editing recordings they’ve made in their countryside living room, unable for the foreseeable future to perform for a crowd.

    “Even in a public square, it would be impossible,” he said, because he and the audience would still need the Green Pass, the European digital vaccination card.

    He gestured at the forest beyond his in-laws’ home. He has found himself in recent days dreaming of putting on a concert in a clearing in the woods.

    “I could put out a call on Facebook and hope nobody comes to break it up,” Ronco said.”

    Deep breaths and Yo-Yo Ma.

    Some of the unvaccinated people Ronco knows keep a low profile. Ronco understands why: Their decisions have been criticized vehemently by politicians, by virologists, even by Pope Francis. Days ago, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said the unvaccinated are responsible for “most of the problems we have today,” disproportionately occupying intensive care beds.

    And are they right? Are the criticisms warranted? Pretty easy to paint people like Ronco as a principled resistance if you ignore reality.

    “We’re flat-earthers,” Ronco said, describing the view of people like himself that has taken hold. “With total disrespect for the system and humanity itself.”


    As Italy, over months, built up its Green Pass rules — first for indoor dining, then for workplaces, then for public transit and much more

    This is really gross, WaPo.

    — Ronco turned his Facebook page into a mix of Torah passages, cello movements and fiery claims about government overreach. He re-shared the testimony of various vaccine skeptics and in the process lost roughly 1,500 of his 5,000 followers, only to find new friend requests pouring in — presumably from people who were more like-minded.

    So isolated.

    So began the fifth consecutive day in which he didn’t leave the house.

    Do these reporters have any idea how many people are staying in their houses?

    Faced with the direct question of why he is unvaccinated, Ronco again has stories — many of them. Over hours, he talked about potential medical consequences of the jab and alternative methods for boosting the immune system. He touted Vladimir Zelenko, a New York doctor tending to a Hasidic Jewish community, who became world famous for devising an experimental treatment that included hydroxychloroquine. He raged about the new divisions in society and even invoked the Nazi-era Aryan passport document.

    And this is offensive bullshit! Push back on this! Who gives a shit about his stories?

    Ronco said he is committed to his resistance, and it has consumed enough of his identity that it’s almost impossible to imagine reversing course. He said that even if he got infected — the lone scenario that would allow an unvaccinated person to get a Green Pass — he wouldn’t use the pass.

    “It can’t go on like this,” Ronco said after he finished playing, where Vozza had joined in.

    “[The government] is pushing so hard on us,” Vozza said. “We committed no crime. But we are not free — not completely free.”

    Not completely free! Fuck social solidarity! It’s about us! We have wants!

    The constraints are about to get even tighter. In coming weeks, Italy will also mandate its Green Pass at banks, stores and the post office, where Ronco and Vozza sometimes send their CDs to fans. (In those places — unlike restaurants, bars and transit — Italy will still accept a negative test.) Starting in mid-February, Italy will also impose a 100-euro fine on anybody older than 50 who isn’t vaccinated. Ronco said he’ll pay.


  68. StevoR says

    History – but not how they (used to?) teach it in schools.

    (Which usually wrongly consider the First Fleet as arriving on Jan 26th which – not really – and declaring New South Wales as the eastern half of Australia was then called (now just part of a state that was actually named in Queensland) which again, no, that kinda “(im?)properly” happened on the 7th Febraury 1788.)

    On this day (18th January) two hundred and thirty-four years ago, back in 1788 the first ship of the First Fleet arrived in Botany Bay – the brig HMS Supply whose captain was Henry Lidgbird Ball, and which was also commanded by the Master / Commander David Blackburn and carried surgeon James Callam aboard.

    They were far from the first Europeans to set foot in Australia, many previous Dutch and other explorers having charted mainly the western and northern coasts and two mutineers from the shipwrecked horror story that was the Batavia already having been marrooned permanently on what is now the West Australian coastline.

    However, this marked the beginning of the first permanent European settlement in Australia. The following weeks, months and centuries would mark the founding of the penal colony of New South Wales – which then extended in concept from Victoria to Queeensland – and the start of the Frontier Wars and the Dispossession of hundreds of Indigenous Peoples in Australia.

    The First Fleet carried along with armed marines and miserable prisoners convicted for mainly minor offences and used for slave labour; vials of smallpox. It is not officially (or unofficially either) recorded if those vials were used and, if so, by whom but a devastating outbreak of that disease would soon break out among the local Eora Peoples not long after the Fleet’s arrival on land that owned the Indigenous people which they never ceded nor gave away in treaty.

    See :


    with an interesting comparative table if you scroll down.

    Plus :

    On the one chilling, mysteriously aquired, surviving wooden artefact. Which despite being in the local state Museum I haven’t seen myself.

  69. StevoR says

    @ 108.

    .. declaring New South Wales as the eastern half of Australia was then called (now just part of a state that was actually named in Queensland) which again, no, that kinda “(im?)properly” happened on the 7th Febraury 1788.

    “Improperly” here because the the wholething wa sbased onthe “terra nullius” lie that Indigneous People(s) didn’t exist and thus even by their own law and rules meant the British were supposed to have a treaty or something with the inhabitants not simply totally ignore them..

    See also :

    Old but good book review chock full of First Fleet questions that seem to go unanswered for lack of actual recorded descriptions from the time & ths article :

    From an Indigenous Point Of View.

    Australia Day / Invasion Day is becoming increasingly controversial here with a large percentage of the people nwo wanting tochange the date -most of the younger and allof them right in my view.

  70. says

    Update to #36!:

    Lords defeat government draconian laws #PoliceBill. A staggering 14 defeats for the government in one historic evening, with a further 5 government amendments being withdrawn. Includes 4 new offences that are now out of this Bill and can’t be reinserted.

  71. StevoR says

    Elizabeth Warren absolutley awesome on tonight’s (Aussie time justseeing now -s o yesterday for the USA) Colbert show.

  72. says

    States refer forged pro-Trump election docs to federal prosecutors

    Sounds to me like the right thing to do.

    The Republican efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election have created a multifaceted scandal, but in recent weeks, there’s been an unexpected twist. Republicans in multiple states [seven states—that we know of so far] created forged election materials and sent the documents to, among others, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Archivist, as if the materials were legitimate. They were not.

    Among the many questions was one obvious line of inquiry: Was this legal? According to some who’ve reviewed what transpired, the answers is, perhaps not. The Detroit News reported the other day:

    Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said Thursday she referred to federal prosecutors a probe into Republicans who signed and submitted a certificate falsely claiming Donald Trump won Michigan’s electoral votes. The revelation demonstrated the potential seriousness and ongoing nature of the investigation and could have repercussions throughout state politics, as the 16 Republicans in question include high-ranking members of the state GOP […]

    Nessel, who made the comments on The Rachel Maddow Show last week, added that she believes a variety of legal lines may have been crossed — and while she’s referred the matter to the Justice Department, the Michigan attorney general hasn’t ruled out the possibility of state charges.

    She’s not alone. The Albuquerque Journal reported that New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas has made the same referral. “Election laws are the foundation of our democracy and must be respected,” the Democratic state AG said in a written statement. “While review under state law is ongoing, we have referred this matter to the appropriate federal law-enforcement authorities and will provide any assistance they deem necessary.”

    […] for Republicans in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin, the legal scrutiny — at the state and federal level — remains ongoing.

    All of which brings us back to the three questions we considered when this story first came into focus.

    1. Was this scheme legal? I can’t speak to this with any authority, but it increasingly appears that some state attorneys general believe the legal controversy is serious enough to warrant investigation.

    2. How many states were part of the scheme? As of now, the answer appears to be five, though if we include Pennsylvania and New Mexico, it’s seven.

    3. Who orchestrated the scheme? Clearly, several states didn’t generate fraudulent election materials entirely on their own. The Republicans who submitted the bogus documents had some outside help.

    We don’t yet know who provided this assistance and/or created the fake materials for official submission. That said, the report out of Lancaster quoted a local GOP official in Pennsylvania who pointed the finger at a Trump campaign lawyer. The Detroit News had a similar report, quoting a Michigan GOP official who also said he’d received guidance from a Trump campaign lawyer.


    At the link, there’s also a video of Rachel Maddow discussing the new developments.

  73. says

    NRC Chair Blames Biden For Debate That Had To Go Virtual Because Of Trump

    National Republican Committee (NRC) chair Ronna McDaniel, who’s moving toward banning GOP candidates from participating in debates sponsored by the Committee on Presidential Debates (CPD), apparently forgot a key detail behind one of her grievances against the CPD.

    During an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Monday night, McDaniel listed various complaints about the CPD’s 2020 election debates between President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden, which the RNC official claimed were biased toward the Democrat.

    “And then they switched one of the debates to virtual to let Joe Biden stay in the basement,” McDaniel said.

    Except that’s not why the commission did that.

    The CPD changed the second presidential debate to a virtual format due to Trump coming down with COVID-19 “in order to protect the health and safety of all involved,” including 77-year-old Biden.

    The then-president, who was still infected at the time, kicked up a fuss over the format change and refused to participate, leading the CPD to cancel the event entirely.

    McDaniel made no mention of Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis as she was complaining on Monday about the CPD’s format decisions.

    The RNC is poised to officially shut out the commission next month by enacting a requirement for all candidates who want to run under the GOP banner to sign a pledge vowing not to participate in CPD-hosted debates. McDaniel sent the CPD a letter last week warning of the RNC’s plans and accusing the commission of holding a pro-Democrat bias, echoing Trump’s demands for changes to the debate structure.

    Joe Biden had already come out of the basement to participate in the first debate. He was never hiding in a basement, that’s just a stupid Republican talking point. And, yes, Trump (and his dunderheaded family), were spreading covid.

  74. says

    TPM – “Report: Gorsuch Refuses To Wear Mask, Forcing High-Risk Sotomayor To Participate Remotely”:

    Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch refuses to wear a mask on the bench, even after being asked to by Chief Justice John Roberts in light of Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s underlying condition, according to NPR.

    Sotomayor has diabetes, which increases her risk of serious complications should she contract the virus. She started calling into oral arguments from her chambers in recent weeks, and reportedly has been calling into the justices’ weekly conference. She and Gorsuch sit next to each other on the bench.

    Some underlying emotion has leaked through the Court’s oral arguments, particularly during a case over Biden administration vaccine mandates earlier this month.

    “Can you ask us — is that what you’re doing now, to say it’s in the public interest in this situation to stop this vaccination rule with nearly a million people — let me not exaggerate — nearly three-quarters of a million people, new cases every day?” Justice Stephen Breyer asked a lawyer representing groups trying to toss a vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers. “I mean, to me, I would find that unbelievable.”

    Justice Elena Kagan struck a similar note in her questioning during the same case.

    “This is a pandemic in which nearly a million people have died,” she said, incredulously. “It is by far the greatest public health danger that this country has faced in the last century. More and more people are dying every day.”

    Some of the conservative justices, meanwhile, used the stage to share their vaccine skepticism. Justice Samuel Alito in particular spoke about the “risk” and “adverse consequences” that could accompany vaccinations, while Gorsuch characterized it as a device with which to “control” employees….

  75. says

    Followup to comment 115.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Why not just admit the RNC doesn’t want debates so they can just hide their awful candidates? Their positions are poison to most Americans; their candidates are mostly seditionists, liars, con men, and crooks. A debate can show it.
    this might be a pre-emptive strike to keep Trump off a debate platform
    Any format that calls on candidates being fact checked in real time is currently terrible and therefore unacceptable to the GOP candidates and especially their voting base.
    They do want “debates.” — hosted by OAN and Fox “jounalists.”
    A pledge of cowardice seems pretty on-brand.
    The only question I have is will the Dems have enough smarts and sangfroid to mercilessly beat up Mango Mussolini or any of the other GQP stuffed shirts for chickening out? Those ads practically will run themselves. And they need to be loud, and be first, and frequent.

  76. says

    CNN – “Stephen A. Smith after Covid: If I wasn’t vaccinated, ‘I wouldn’t be here'”:

    Stephen A. Smith returned to ESPN’s “First Take” Monday after a bout with Covid-19, which the commentator said nearly killed him.

    “For me personally, it hit me differently,” Smith said.

    Smith explained that he tested positive for the virus late last month and wound up in the hospital over the New Year.

    “[Doctors] told me, had I not been vaccinated, I wouldn’t be here. That’s how bad I was,” he said. “I had pneumonia in both lungs. My liver was bad, and it ravaged me to the point where even now I have to monitor my volume, get to the gym every day … I’m still not 100% with my lungs, but I’m Covid negative … I’m on the road to recovery.”

    Smith added that he had a 103 degree fever every night, “woke up with chills and a pool of sweat and was coughing profusely.”

    “And it got to a point that right before New Year’s Eve, I was in the hospital into New Year’s Day,” he said. “That’s how I brought in the New Year.”

    Smith added that “if it wasn’t for several doctors … I wouldn’t be here.” He proceeded to thank those doctors as well as ESPN executives including the network’s chairman, Jimmy Pitaro, for checking on him.

    “I wanted to take a moment to say to folks out there that (A) the vaccine, according to [doctors], saved me,” he said. “Now, everybody’s different because my sister smokes and she had Covid and she was fine in 3 days, 3-4 days. Me? I don’t smoke, and it almost took me out.”

    Smith also added that wearing a mask is important.

    “I think the one thing to emphasize the importance of, no matter how you feel about the vaccine, that mask is important,” Smith said, “because you don’t know how the next person is affected. How I’m affected is different from how you were affected.”…

    Peter Hotez mentioned on CNN that Smith said he was double vaccinated but not yet boosted for whatever reason.

  77. says

    Lynna @ #115, I think Trump was trying to kill Biden at that first debate. The reporters on AF1 said he also came back to their section of the plane without a mask and infected at least one of them. I’d bet that was intentional as well.

  78. says

    Why There’s a Civil War in Idaho — Inside the GOP

    Idaho is the ‘reddest of red states.’ So why are Republicans fighting so much?

    The Republican primary for governor was still months away, but in the packed city hall chambers in this Oregon Trail town 18 miles west of Boise, the campaign was already heated.

    Six candidates — two each for governor, lieutenant governor and secretary of state — had accepted the invitation from the county Republican women’s club to make their case to the 75 or so citizens who filled the folding chairs and stood at the back. Cowboy hats outnumbered face masks.

    The stakes in Idaho’s primary next May are high: If it’s anything like every other statewide primary in nearly two decades, the Republican ballot will effectively decide the general election here in what the previous governor, Butch Otter, dubbed “the reddest of the red states.”

    […] “We’re losing our freedom to foreign governments and foreign corporations,” said one dark-horse gubernatorial contender, a cowboy-hatted county commissioner from the state’s remote northern Panhandle. As evidence, he cited the $1.4 billion in pandemic assistance that Idaho had received from that “foreign” power, the U.S. government, as part of the Cares Act.

    Another first-time candidate for governor urged a moratorium on resettling Afghan refugees in Idaho because “it’s the United Nations that’s driving refugee settlement, not the United States.”

    As the forum progressed, the candidates directed their resentment and scorn not just at Democratic adversaries but at threats within the party — in particular, at the sitting GOP governor, Brad Little. […]

    A former ER nurse named Mary Souza from the northern city of Coeur d’Alene who’s running for secretary of state inveighed against a threat that might seem nearly as distant as the United Nations: election fraud. Then-President Donald Trump won almost 64 percent of Idaho’s votes in 2020, 5 points more than in 2016, and took all but three small counties. Nevertheless, Souza called “election integrity” the greatest challenge facing the state; she and many other Idahoans seem to believe Trump should have won more. […]

    That threat, that ruby-red Idaho could somehow turn purple, may not be as far-fetched as it sounds. As recently as the mid-1990s, Democrats were still competitive in Idaho, even as many other western states, including Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, were more strongly Republican. Those three are now blue spots on the electoral map.

    Tom Luna, Idaho’s affable state Republican chair, notes two key similarities between those then-red states and today’s Idaho: Each was “a fast-growing state where Republicans were fighting with each other.”

    Fast growth, driven by in-migration, is certainly at play in Idaho […] But so is intraparty fighting, as anti-government militants and self-proclaimed, ideologically inflamed “political refugees” from the Left Coast collide with long-dominant traditional conservatives, and an ambitious lieutenant governor with a zest for pushing culture-war buttons tries to unseat a pragmatic governor struggling to bridge the gap.

    […] the GOP in Idaho is both dominant — and fragile.

    […] Chuck Malloy, a veteran Republican adviser-turned-columnist, streamlines that list. “I’ve been saying for a long time Idaho is a two-party state,” he told me. “The Republican Party and the More Republican Party.”

    […] In a way, Idaho’s 2022 election season began in January 2019, soon after newly elected Gov. Little and Lt. Gov. McGeachin took office, when she launched what would become a campaign to upstage and undermine Little each time he left the state. McGeachin (pronounced “McGeehen”) started by posting a photo of herself posing in front of the state capitol with two members of the Three Percenters, a militia movement named for the debunked claim that just 3 percent of colonists fought in the American Revolution. She even swore several of them into the ranks and followed up by appearing with members of the John Birch Society and other far-right groups.

    […] Republicans occupy 86 out of 105 legislative seats and compose the state’s entire congressional delegation.

    […] As a party, Idaho Republicans should be sitting pretty. […] Luna recited the same litany of well-being twice in one interview: rapid growth (economic and demographic), low unemployment, a record budget surplus (boosted by pandemic largess from the much-resented federal government), “the biggest tax cut in state history, and the least regulation in the country.” He could add to that list top ratings for business-friendliness and creditworthiness.

    So why are Idaho Republicans at each others’ throats? […] McGeachin’s “Task Force to Examine Indoctrination in Idaho Education.” The task force failed to find the “teachings on social justice, critical race theory, socialism, communism, Marxism” it sought but did produce a spicy public-records scandal.

    […] It’s easy to dismiss McGeachin’s coup-for-a-day antics as showboating stunts […] But the antics seem to work for the audience she wants to reach; as Malloy told me, “her base loves it.”

    So, it seems, does Trump. On Nov. 9, he injected himself into Idaho’s politics, as he has into so many other states’, and gave McGeachin his “Complete and Total Endorsement to be the next Governor of Idaho.” […] She visited Mar-a-Lago twice last year — the second time just eight days before the endorsement, which she prefigured with a press release.

    […] Like any populist or radical movement, Idaho’s pitchfork politics are a quest for authenticity. By their lights, Little and his fellow establishment Republicans (to say nothing of libs and Dems) have betrayed not just the Trump revolution but some sort of authentic, real Idaho. [Bullshit]

    That’s the premise behind the most memorable slogan this campaign cycle has produced: “Keep Idaho Idaho,” Bundy’s bumpersticker motto. [Bundy has only lived in Idaho for six years.]

    […] California has turned deep blue; Republicans’ loss there has been red Idaho’s gain. Fueled by migration from California and, to a lesser extent, Washington and Oregon, Idaho’s population has soared since 2015, rising faster than any other state’s.

    […] Republican migrants to Idaho outnumber Democrats about two-to-one, according to a statewide annual survey of public attitudes conducted at Boise State University. [aiyiyiyyi] Rather than importing the liberal politics of the coastal cities they’ve left, many bring smoldering resentment of government regulation and “socialism.” “They want to make sure people here know how evil liberals are,” says Alicia Abbott, a political independent in Sandpoint, the largest town in far-northern Bonner County. She’s doing voter outreach for 97 Percent, an effort to counter the Three Percenters’ armed extremism.

    Those who fear and those who cheer the effects of right flight agree on one point: The newcomers are pushing Idaho politics farther to the right […] “New to Idaho, true to Idaho,” proclaims the influential Idaho Freedom Foundation, which vets legislation and legislators for their conservative correctness. “Are you a refugee from California, or some other liberal playground? Did you move to Idaho to escape the craziness?” its website says. “Welcome to Idaho.”

    […] the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee unanimously passed an effusive resolution endorsing the John Birch Society and urged the state party to adopt it too. […]

    More at the link.

  79. tomh says

    The government site to order free Covid-19 tests is now active. Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order 4 free at-home covid-19 tests. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days.
    Order here

  80. raven says

    People Are Hiding That Their Unvaccinated Loved Ones Died of COVID

    With the arrival of vaccines, compassion for COVID deaths began to dry up, sometimes replaced by scorn.

    By Andrea Stanley The Atlantic

    Instead, many obituaries and memorial posts on social media don’t tell the full story, referencing pneumonia or other complications that stemmed from COVID-19 without invoking the coronavirus itself. Sometimes, no cause of death is given.

    I’m seeing that even locally. Huge numbers of obituaries of young and not so young people with no cause of death or cryptic ones like “a brief illness” or “pneumonia”.

    The antivaxxers are really dying of twisted religion, twisted ideology of right wingnut politics, ignorance, and plain old dumbness.
    They are at least self aware enough to realize that there is a stigma around these thought processes.

    If you find yourself in a Forever Freedom Box for avoidable and unnecessary reasons, you did not make smart decisions.

  81. says

    tomh @121, awesome. And the website works well.

    In other news, looking for a Plan B:

    Senate Democrats are scrambling for a Plan B to pass voting rights legislation after Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced last week that they would not vote to change the Senate’s filibuster rule despite the pleading of President Biden.

    Now some Democrats are discussing a novel approach to circumventing a Republican filibuster that may allow voting rights legislation to pass with 51 votes without changing the Senate’s rules.

    These Democrats, including Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), are exploring the possibility of forcing Senate Republicans to actually hold the floor with speeches and procedural motions.

    They hope that the Republican opposition may tire itself out after a few days or weeks and that Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) may be able to then call for a simple-majority vote on final passage and skip the formal procedural vote — known as cloture — on ending debate.

    “There are a couple of paths here. Do we go down the path and do a long debate until it’s done and then have a simple debate?” Kaine told reporters last week.

    “We wouldn’t need a rules change to pass the bill by simple majority if the debate is over. Theoretically, you do not need a rules change to pass a bill that’s on the floor, you just have to allow debate to occur,” he added.

    The strategy has gained more attention from Senate Democrats in recent days as it’s become crystal clear that Sinema and Manchin won’t vote for a more straightforward rules change to lowering the procedural threshold for ending a filibuster from 60 votes to 50.

    […] The problem with this approach, according to Democrats familiar with the discussion, is that it hasn’t been attempted in decades and no one is quite sure how it would play out procedurally.

    Cloture votes to end debate in the Senate have become so routine that it’s become second nature to expect the floor is being tied up in debate when a controversial bill is pending.

    More often, the floor is usually empty or has only a few members milling about while the clerk reads off the roll of senators’ names during a quorum call.

    James Wallner, a former Senate Republican aide and expert on Senate procedure, says that Democrats could pass voting rights legislation with a simple-majority vote if they’re willing to put up with a lengthy battle on the floor.

    “Democrats don’t need 60 votes at all. They’re in 51-vote territory. They can move to table any amendments that Republicans offer to the bill,” he said.

    “The easiest way to get to final passage on this bill is to put it on the floor and have Vice President Kamala Harris or Majority Leader Schumer or any other senator start to make points of order against any senator who tries to speak more than twice,” he added, referring to Senate Rule XIX.

    That rule states that “no senator shall speak more than twice upon any one question in debate on the same legislative day without leave of the Senate.”

    Wallner said this applies to making various motions, which also counts as speech under the rule. He also noted that Schumer could stretch out “a legislative day” by several days or weeks to enforce Rule XIX.

    He argued that if the two-speech rule is enforced, Republicans would eventually exhaust their ability to debate and hold up a final vote on voting rights legislation or any other bill.

    […] A senior Senate Democratic aide, however, said that while this strategy might sound promising in theory, it would be difficult to execute because the Senate’s two-speech rule isn’t usually enforced by the chair and the minority can circumvent it by offering a slew of debatable motions that would set up new questions to debate, allowing each senator two more speeches.

    […] “This requires a more aggressive presiding officer,” the source explained. “The parliamentarian is not going to advise the presiding officer, ‘Nobody seems to be seeking debate so bring the question.’ It will have to be affirmatively sought by the presiding officer.”

    In other words, the Senate has gotten into the habit of assuming a debate is taking place on a pending matter even if nothing is happening on the floor.

    It has become a matter of course to hold a cloture vote to formally end debate and proceed to a final up-or-down vote unless a senator makes a successful request for unanimous consent to pass a measure without a vote or with a voice vote.

    […] Republicans would only need a few senators to tie up the floor, while Democrats would need to muster all 50 members of their caucus plus the vice president as the tie-breaking vote to repeatedly counter Republican motions noting the absence of a quorum, motions to adjourn and other procedural motions designed to hold up legislative business.

    “Are you going to allow people to do quorum calls or not? It’s hard to stop people from being able to put in quorum calls,” the Democratic aide added. “This requires a lot of energy expended by senators. The majority is going to have to keep pushing this. The majority leader is going to want to devote the floor time to doing this, and the recent Senate has not shown the willingness to put in long weeks, let alone long extended periods of debate.”

    Wallner, the former Senate Republican aide, says these problems can be overcome if Democrats have enough energy and discipline to repeatedly vote down Republican motions.

    “They can table at any point anything before the Senate, so the Democrats are literally in simple-majority territory right now,” he said.

    Schumer gave Senate Democrats a procedural head start on the voting rights legislation by bringing it straight to the floor as a message from the House. That maneuver enabled him to skip having to muster 60 votes to end debate on a motion to proceed to the legislation. […]


    More at the link.

  82. says


    Laura Ingraham Gives COVID Round Of Applause For Infecting Gen. Mark Milley

    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley tested positive for COVID-19 Sunday, and CNN reports that Gen. David Berger, commandant of the Marine Corps, also tested positive.

    Professional Fox News terrible person Laura Ingraham seemed filled with joy when she shared the news with her viewers last night during a recurring segment, “Positively Boosted.”

    INGRAHAM: All right, the triple-vaxxed Joint Chief[s] chairman Mark Milley – our favorite, Mark Milley! – tested positive for Covid yesterday. And who else? General David Berger, the Marine Corps commandant, also positively boosted.

    She applauded like these guys had won on “Jeopardy!” Her wacky sidekick, Raymond Arroyo, could also barely contain his excitement. This is not human behavior.

    Here’s as much video as we can stand: [video is available at the link]

    […] We know Ingraham isn’t a fan of Milley, who she considers a “woke Marxist,” but her “Positively Boosted” segment isn’t just about gloating over her fallen enemies. This is part of an ongoing right-wing disinformation campaign against the efficacy of vaccines. Milley and Berger are both working from home, and Milley has reported only “minor symptoms.” Marine Col. Kelly Frushour said Berger’s duties should remain “unaffected.” […]

    […] Last week, Ingraham hosted MIT scientist Stephanie Seneff, who warned that the COVID-19 vaccine can cause severe neurodegenerative disease in children. Seneff is a computer scientist, not medical doctor, and parents who listen to her nonsense and resist vaccinating their children are putting them at great risk.

    On Monday’s show, Ingraham and Arroyo even mocked the Holy See’s Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, who tested positive after announcing a vaccine mandate and firing employees who didn’t comply. Arroyo noted that Parolin had “cast doubt on religious exemptions to the mandate.” Parolin is somewhat of a subject matter expert here, and perhaps recognized that most resistance to the COVID-19 vaccine is either political or rooted in ignorance.

    This is where we note that Ingraham and Arroryo are likely both vaccinated themselves, per Fox News’s own workplace guidelines. They are playing their gullible viewers for chumps.

  83. says

    Global News – “Revealed: How a web of Canadian doctors are undermining the fight against COVID-19”:

    …This raises a big unanswered question when Canadians are sharing information, knowingly or unknowingly, that draws on unverified health information put out there by licensed doctors. Are medical regulators doing enough to hold doctors to account for their public statements?

    Telegram is now awash with references to “clot shots” and “death shots” and citations of doctors’ unverified information on myocarditis and blood clots. People speak freely on Twitter about how to find ivermectin in Canada.

    Queen’s University assistant professor Michelle Cohen says the movement is “really problematic” as doctors are often held up as experts.

    “Their medical credentials get used to promote these denialist and anti-vax, anti-mask and anti-public health ideas and their credentials are just kind of waved out there, like a flag,” she says.

    “So it really matters a lot that these doctors are showing up on these large platforms and saying, ‘I’m a doctor, here’s the research I’ve done. Here’s what I see. Here’s the science as I understand it’, and then just unleashing a bunch of just provably false information and unscientific nonsense that people aren’t necessarily going to be able to parse.”

    She said many Canadian doctors were taking their cues from prominent U.S. anti-vaccine doctors and there was now a “borderless flow of disinformation” between the two countries.

    Cohen says there is “definitely not” enough being done to hold these doctors to account.

    “[Colleges] are not moving quickly enough. Investigation takes months and months and months. And the speed of this information is very fast.”

    Much more at the link. About a hearing on January 7: “Conversation then turned to Kilian. Her lawyer, Rocco Galati, had been hospitalized and was in intensive care with an undisclosed illness, resulting in her case being rescheduled.” I posted on the 11th that Galati was then reportedly “in an ICU, intubated, in a medically induced coma.” I haven’t been able to find out any more about his condition. I would think that if he’s died or recovered there would be some announcement, so I assume he’s still in the ICU, but I really don’t know. He’s like the major lawyer for these cases in Canada. It’s strange that there would be no information for a week.

  84. says

    Speaking of Italy and of anti-vaxxers not wanting to acknowledge COVID deaths (see raven’s #123 above), Italian anti-vax leader Luigi Marilli has died from COVID.

    His organization, which I think is translated as Let’s Liberate Italy, didn’t cite a cause of death in their statement about his death.

    In the US and Canada, there appears to be a growing trend of claiming that anti-vax people who died from COVID have been murdered by doctors and nurses in the hospitals, either by refusing to administer their quack “treatments” or by their attempts to save people’s lives. The violent rhetoric seems to be getting more heated.

  85. says

    JFC – “Covid, the singer No vax Hanka Horká voluntarily becomes infected in order not to get vaccinated and dies”:

    Hanka Horka, a well-known folk music singer from the Czech Republic, died last Sunday at the age of 57. She has always stated that she is against the Covid vaccine (LIVEBLOG) and therefore infected herself intentionally, staying in contact with positive family members, so that she could “return to a normal life” – as she wrote on Facebook – once cured, without having to vaccinate. But then after contracting the virus she passed away.

    On January 13, the singer shared a post on her social profile in which she claimed to have Covid and to have now overcome the disease, rejoicing to be able to return “to the theater, the sauna and social life” and inviting others to do the same. According to the story of the woman’s son Jan Rek, also a musician, the mother chose to stay at home despite the fact that he and his father were positive. For them, vaccinated, the disease lasted three days, while for her it was longer, five days until it led to her death. Also Jan, in an interview with the Czech newspaper Irozhlas[dot]cz, harshly criticized the No vax and spreaders of fake news on the pandemic. “You killed my mother. She won’t be able to come to my graduation, my wedding, or my son’s baptism,” he said, explaining how both he and his father had tried to get Han[k]a to get vaccinated and failed.

  86. johnson catman says

    Does anyone know how to get to OnlySky Media? A lot of the Patheos non-religious bloggers were supposed to move to that platform, but when I google it and click, I only get a login screen, and I do not have a password. Perhaps there is a way to register?

  87. says

    Signs of even bigger troubles to come (related to voting restrictions):

    The veteran clerk of Travis County, Texas on Tuesday lamented that Texas’ new voting restrictions had led to a spike in rejected requests for absentee ballots in her county, and several others across the state.

    “This is what voter suppression looks like,” Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said at a press conference.

    As Texas’ March 1 primary date rapidly approaches, hundreds of would-be voters in the Austin area have had their ballot applications rejected due to the new restrictions […]

    Given that primary voters are typically more engaged politically, and more familiar with the “rules of engagement” for voting, Texas’ new rules could lead to even more ballot request rejections in November’s general election, said Tammy Patrick, senior advisor to the elections program at Democracy Fund.

    […] The primary issue so far, DeBeauvoir said, is the ID requirement in the new law: Absentee voters in Texas are now required to include either their driver’s license number, a state ID number or the last four digits of their Social Security number on both their ballot applications and on the ballot envelopes themselves.

    What’s worse, the type of identification number voters use needs to match the type they used to register in the first place — forcing them to remember a minute detail sometimes decades after the fact, or else risk being rejected and having to fix their application. […] DeBeauvoir also said a state database that could hold some of the historical information was blank for Travis County, and that state officials had been extremely difficult to reach.

    […] “So far we have not received instructions from the secretary of state’s office to tell voters how to go look up this information, and therein is the beginning of the problem for voters,” she added.

    Of the roughly 1,900 ballot requests received by Travis County as of Tuesday morning, DeBeauvoir said more than 500 had been rejected. About half of rejected applications didn’t fill out the ID field, and around 50 additional applications had included an ID number that did not match state records, DeBeauvoir said: “They didn’t guess right.” […]


  88. says

    DeSantis out-Orwells Orwell with proposed $6 million police ‘election integrity unit’

    Today, as the Senate debates two of the most important bills in the nation’s history on voting rights, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is planning some kind of militarized police force to monitor voting in his state. This despite the fact that the governor has advertised his state as “the gold standard” after the 2020 presidential elections: “I think that’s how elections should be run,” DeSantis said on Nov. 4, 2020, after Trump won the state by over three percentage points.

    Sounding more and more like something out of Orwell’s 1984, the proposed Office of Election Crimes and Security would be part of the Department of State, and report directly to DeSantis. He’s asking his GOP-controlled legislature for $6 million to hire 52 people to “investigate, detect, apprehend, and arrest anyone for an alleged violation” of election laws.

    Members of DeSantis’ Gestapo would be stationed at various unnamed “field offices throughout the state” and act on tips from “government officials or any other person.” […]


  89. says

    More re #s 107 and 113 above – Daily Kos – “The Washington Post makes European vaccine resisters sound so much more sophisticated than ours”:

    …I mean … okay? Sure? Guy doesn’t want to get vaccinated, guy finds out that DURING A WORLDWIDE PANDEMIC, LIVING IN A WORLD-RENOWNED TOURIST TRAP living your normal life is going to get increasingly uncomfortable if you’re not willing to do the one thing that will help prevent you from dying. Italy doesn’t want any dead cellists, thank you. They have a whole great bunch of them already—you can’t go ten paces in many parts of Europe without tripping over the bones of a long-dead cellist. It doesn’t matter how old or historic your cellos are, the country has a lot of problems and a lot of budgeting to do and nobody is interested in paying to haul your eccentric corpse out of your apartment because you once saw a guy tout hydro-chloro-whatever and now believe it, rather than any of the things that medical science has found to be far more helpful, is the solution the rest of the planet is refusing to see.

    But it is more than that. Our cellist, being a cellist, wants to travel all around Europe for his concert gigs—without being vaccinated. Our cellist, being a cellist, wants to be able to gather paying crowds into chamber music places to hear chamber music things—without being vaccinated.

    And he’s living his current lonely and spartan life because “let’s have unvaccinated traveling performers flit from city to city gathering new crowds of people in each place DURING A PANDEMIC” sounds objectively like one of the worst ideas anybody ever had. It is near the top of the bad idea pyramid. Even with vaccination passports it sounds like a terrible idea that should probably just not happen until the surges stop surging, but being allowed to do it while actively refusing to be vaccinated puts it up at the very top of that pyramid, in the place where the creepy glowing eyeball usually goes.

    Buddy, no. Just no. And Washington Post, giving space to an eccentric eccentric who is eccentrically depressed about his eccentric life choices having consequences is sending weird signals, here. Did somebody just want to expense a trip to the Italian countryside or the Venetian canals? It’s that, isn’t it.

    Can you imagine what would happen if our own federal government instituted a “Green Pass” requirement insisting that you needed to be vaccinated before taking the bus, or getting on a plane, or even getting a coffee? There’d be civil war. Ron DeSantis and the new private militia he’s trying to start up would be on the frontlines, stripping people’s masks off and spitting in their mouths in order to fight tyranny.

    “You’ll impinge on the travel plans of chamber musicians over our dead bodies,” they’ll yell. “Without the cello, no freedom exists!”

    I don’t know here. I think we’re all very tired and a little punchy, and it’s hard for anything to come into sharp mental focus. But the Post notes that “for people like Ronco, the choice is to get inoculated or face exclusion,” and the most natural response would seem to be … yes? Pretty much? That is in fact the trade being made here, as nations ask their citizens to fight a pandemic that has killed millions and some of those citizens respond with a low, resonant grunting noise?

  90. says

    From the DK comments: “I guess the New York Times was too busy interviewing Trump voters in Iowa diners again to join the Post in this hot take.”

    I think the aspect of the piece I found most infuriating was how they went out of their way – I’m not claiming it was deliberate or conscious – to present public health measures as similar to the exclusion of Jews from German society in the 1930s. Every metaphor seems to take the form of a shrinking net or screws tightening. So I wasn’t surprised to see this framing continue in how one of the reporters characterized the article (on the front page of yesterday’s Post, with a large picture!) on Twitter.

    (It’s bizarre that Chico Harlan’s tweets about it immediately follow a thread about the current situation in Italy, where he notes that more than 4% of the Italian population has been infected in the past six weeks, hospitals are under pressure, deaths are rising, the daily death toll is over 200, and “It’s the unvaccinated who are still disproportionately filling up hospitals.”)

    So here are his tweets:

    There are several countries in Europe where the unvaccinated are effectively barred from public life. It’s worth pondering what that feels like. Here’s our story on Claudio Ronco, age 66, an Orthodox Jew, a Baroque cellist, an unvaccinated “flat-earther.”

    There are some countries where the unvaccinated can still lead near-normal lives. But in parts of Western Europe, they are being forcibly excluded from everyday life. Our story on today’s @washingtonpost front page, about one person as the walls close in.

    “As the walls close in”! There aren’t many responses, but they’re overwhelmingly negative:

    Wouldn’t it be easier to just get vaccinated?

    With respect, what is the newsworthiness of this article at this point in the pandemic? I see 2 selfish people whose crank views are being elevated by a Washington Post profile. They aren’t taking a brave stand. They are facing consequences for self-centered/ignorant choices.

    If only we could do that here…

    “That was some weird shit.”

    why are you platforming anti-social, anti-public-health behavior and framing it as a rational choice?

    You’re literally giving light and heat to dangerous ideas.

    The only positive comments were from some self-declared “crypto-expert” thanking them and bloviating about “tyranny” (which should tell them something) and two WaPo colleagues. One, the Rio bureau chief (which doesn’t bode well), wrote

    Really enjoyed that story, Chico. Ronco was a great find.

    I’m not sure what this is even supposed to mean. How was he a great find? He’s a well-off dude with an apartment in Venice who can take off to a family house in the hills. His explanations for his vaccine rejection, to the extent that he can formulate them coherently, are bog standard tropes familiar from every HCA slideshow. Really, the only fascinating character in the profile appears to be the 1745 cello, who, could it speak, would probably be like, “Get vaccinated, you fucking doofus.” What was the purpose of finding him, and how was he found? It seems relevant to Harlan that he’s an Orthodox Jew (one of the tens of thousands of Jewish people in an Italian population of 60 million – presumably a tiny fraction of Italian anti-vaxxers), even though, again, his arguments could come from any Trumper meme. Why is his status as a musician who “once performed all over Europe” but now “can’t check into a hotel, eat at restaurant or get a coffee at a bar” significant, if not to suggest that public health measures are destroying European culture?

    It’s odd that the writers mention that Ronco’s “children are grown,” but the article has nothing to say about whether they agree with his or his wife’s stance. It’s also odd that comments weren’t sought from Italian Jewish organizations or any context provided.

    “Italy: Holocaust Survivor’s Plug for Vaccine Sparks Hatred”:

    An Italian Holocaust survivor’s attempt to encourage other older adults to receive the anti-COVID-19 vaccine has triggered a wave of anti-Semitic comments and other invective on social media.

    Liliana Segre, 90, received the first of the two-shot vaccine series in Milan on Thursday. She urged people who reach her age “to not be afraid and to take the vaccine.”

    “I’m not afraid of the vaccine, I’m afraid of the illness,” Segre remarked.

    After Segre’s comments received negative social media attention, Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese expressed solidarity with her and denounced the “new and unacceptable attack” which [s]he said was marked by “a very dangerous mix of hate, violence and racism.”…

    “Green Pass: Auschwitz survivor Segre says ‘crazy’ to compare Italy’s vaccine rules with Holocaust”:

    Italian life senator and Holocaust survivor Liliana Segre has slammed comparisons between Italy’s Green Pass regulations and the persecution of Jews by Nazis.

    The 90-year-old, who survived the horrors of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz after being deported there at the age of 13, said it was “madness” to equate Jewish persecution with Italy’s covid restrictions.

    Segre, who recently received honorary citizenship of Rome, told Jewish newspaper Pagine Ebraiche that such comparisons were “gestures in which bad taste meets ignorance.”…

  91. says

    Not a great week for Serbia. I was asking last week about this strange Serbian connection in the Oath Keepers indictment. TPM has the story:

    “How A Serbian Scientist Helped Inspire The Oath Keepers To March On The Capitol”:

    …According to a federal grand jury indictment last week, Rhodes shared his plan to march on the Capitol after coming across a video titled “STEP BY STEP PROCEDURE, HOW WE WON WHEN MILOSEVIC STOLE OUR ELECTIONS.” It was a guide to overturning Joe Biden’s election, citing the model of the popular revolt which ended the rule of Slobodan Milosevic twenty years earlier.

    Rhodes sent that video to a group of Oath Keepers, prosecutors say, and claimed to be in contact with the video’s creator who was advising his group with a plan of action.

    An archived Nov. 11, 2020 version of the Oath Keepers’ website shows a letter from Rhodes embedded with the same video, thanking its creator, a “patriot from Serbia,” for “show[ing] us the way.”

    TPM spoke on Monday with that “patriot from Serbia.” Now a Texas resident, the Serbian-born Aleksandar Savic discussed the video, his interactions with Rhodes, and his background. The news website MintPress first identified Savic as the creator of the video in January 2021.

    Savic denied that his words incited violence.

    “There are some very angry people citing other books, there are some people committing crimes from listening to rap songs,” Savic told TPM. “So, in lying that the one who is sending the words/message/whatever is solely responsible, is something that is not true.”

    The video, uploaded on Nov. 6, 2020 when Savic was still living in Europe, offers those upset by Trump’s defeat an “example” from Savic’s home country: Milosevic, Serbia’s autocratic leader in the 1990s, left power following the disputed 2000 election.

    Irregularities in that election appeared to give Milosevic extra votes that put him over the top, resulting in mass demonstrations.

    Workers went on strike, and protestors massed in Belgrade, eventually storming the country’s parliament. The same day, Milosevic resigned.

    In the video, Savic likens the 2020 election in the U.S. to the 2000 election in Serbia, telling the audience: “When they declare their fake victory, you need to start massive civil disobedience.”

    He also says explicitly that violence might be needed.

    “This is what you must put in their hearts: They must feel fear. And while they are counting fake ballots, they must think about, are they going to get out of there alive?” Savic says. “Yes, I’m calling you for violence, if that is the only way. Who cares? Yes, I do. Here: taboo, broken.”

    “We were in that situation,” Savic added. “You can lose, or you can fight.”

    In the analogy, Milosevic is Biden: a usurper of the people’s will. An international tribunal found Milosevic responsible for genocide committed by Serb militias during the Bosnian War in the 1990s.

    For the Oath Keepers, Savic’s video came at a pivotal moment on rollercoaster of emotion that Trump supporters went through that week. With the election held on Nov. 3 and the major news networks not calling the results until Nov. 7, Trump diehards were able to hold onto hope for the first few days.

    By Nov. 5, when Savic released an initial, somewhat more vanilla video going over what he regarded as the historical parallels between Serbia 2000 and the U.S. 2020, hope was starting to fade that Trump would win.

    It was in that climate of desperation that on Nov. 6 Savic posted a sequel: the “step-by-step” video that prosecutors cite as inspiring Rhodes’ plan of action for Jan. 6.

    As that video progresses, video of Serbia in 2000 plays in the background. At one point, the text “TO THE CAPITAL!!!” appears. Towards the end, music — what Savic describes as a “Serbian march from World War I” — plays, while the video’s description notes: “we stormed the parliament.”

    For Rhodes, Savic’s video captured what would be necessary to turn the tide against Biden, and a historical precedent in which the good guys won. Prosecutors say in the indictment that Rhodes told Oath Keepers on Nov. 7, one day after the video was published, that the group “must now do what the people of Serbia did when Milosevic stole their election. Refuse to accept it and march en-mass on the nation’s Capitol.”

    Savic agreed to speak on the condition that both TPM and he make audio recordings of the conversation. In his conversation with TPM, Savic denied his video played any role in the actions that the Oath Keepers later took.

    “It was said in such a voice that was reflecting my ethnic tradition of speaking orally, we are not very literal people [when] we are speaking our stories,” he continued. “Maybe that was super emotional, maybe that triggered some people, but that video is still on YouTube, so I still haven’t broken community standards of YouTube.”

    “So implying that there is something spectacular there is a bit dishonest,” he added.

    When TPM asked Savic why he made the video cited by federal prosecutors, Savic, in turn, cited Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the famed Soviet dissident writer and author of The Gulag Archipelago….

    He declined to share his emails with Rhodes with TPM, saying that it was a privacy issue and suggesting that providing those emails to a reporter might be a violation of the law.

    “In every country in the world, there are laws about private, written communication,” Savic said. “It is as old as letters.”

    Savic also said that if the government wanted access to his messages, they could have it — but, he said, he had not yet been contacted by the government.

    When asked whether he thought there was legitimate cause to delay the certification of the election that day, Savic grew less strident.

    “I have no idea what happened,” he said. “I don’t have enough information. As a scientist, without information, I cannot say anything. This is what I was trained for.”

    Savic maintained that his message was its own, separate narrative, independent of Jan. 6; anyone who committed violent acts was misinterpreting his text, he said.

    “It is the interpretive structure of other people, not of me,” he told TPM. “If there is something problematic in, for example, my video, then you can say the same that there is something … problematic in Quran, because there are some very angry people citing Quran.”

  92. says

    HuffPo – “Florida Health Official Suspended For Encouraging Staff To Get COVID Vaccine”:

    A health official who has helped lead central Florida’s response to the pandemic has been put on administrative leave as state officials investigate whether he tried to compel employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19 in violation of state law.

    The state health agency is conducting an inquiry into Raul Pino, director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, “to determine if any laws were broken in this case,” Florida Department of Health press secretary Jeremy Redfern said in an email.

    A measure Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law last fall prohibits government agencies from implementing vaccine mandates and restricts private businesses from having vaccine requirements unless they allow workers to opt out for medical reasons, religious beliefs, immunity based on a previous infection, regular testing or an agreement to wear protective gear.

    “The Department is committed to upholding all laws, including the ban on vaccine mandates for government employees and will take appropriate action once additional information is known,” Redfern said in the email. He didn’t offer further details.

    Orlando’s WFTV reports that Pino was put on leave after he sent an email to staff earlier this month critical of their vaccination rate.

    Pino wrote that out of 568 staffers, only 77 had received booster shots, 219 had gotten two vaccines doses and 34 only had a single dose, according to the television station.

    “I am sorry but in the absence of reasonable and real reasons it is irresponsible not to be vaccinated,” Pino wrote. “We have been at this for two years, we were the first to give vaccines to the masses, we have done more than 300,000 and we are not even at 50% pathetic.”

    Pino has led the health agency in Orange County since 2019 and has served as a leading figure in the public response to the pandemic in metro Orlando.

  93. says

    Summarized from an article in The New York Times: Emily’s List, a prominent player in Democratic politics, announced yesterday that it’s prepared to end its financial support for Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema over her opposition to amending the Senate’s filibuster rules to protect voting rights legislation.

    About time.

  94. tomh says

    Plans to close all but one polling place in a rural Georgia county reverberate through a battleground state
    Fredreka Schouten / January 19, 2022

    (CNN)Election officials in a rural Georgia county are weighing plans to close all but one polling place ahead of this year’s elections, alarming local voting and civil rights groups.

    But Wednesday’s vote by the Lincoln County elections board has reverberated far beyond this Georgia community of roughly 7,700 northwest of Augusta. The county is one of six in this battleground state that have disbanded or reconfigured their local election boards in the last year, thanks to recently passed bills by the Republican-controlled Georgia General Assembly.

    Several Democrats have been tossed off the boards. One reconstituted board eliminated Sunday voting during a recent municipal election — an option popular among Black churchgoers, a key Democratic constituency.

    “What’s happening in Georgia with the dismantling of these county election boards is an extreme example of the national trend in Republican-controlled states to undermine local election officials,” said Jonathan Diaz, senior legal counsel for voting rights at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, which advocates for broad access to the ballot.

    Republican-controlled legislators in Georgia, Texas, Arizona and Florida all have enacted new restrictions on voting in the year since President Joe Biden assumed office. Voting rights activists say this is a pattern of Republicans expanding their influence over election administration in these politically competitive states in advance of this year’s critical midterm elections.

    And it’s not likely to stop there. New legislative proposals that target election operations have cropped up in Georgia, a state with high-stakes contests this year for governor and a US Senate seat.

    In Lincoln County — a GOP stronghold where Donald Trump received more than 68% of the vote in 2020 and where 29% of its residents are Black — the all-Republican county commission now appoints three out of five election board members. Officials there say closing six of seven polling places will eliminate the need to send equipment and staff around the county. It also will help mothball cramped and outdated polling sites that don’t allow for social distancing, county leaders say.

    All voting would happen at a central location in Lincolnton, the county seat, under the consolidation plan the elections board is set to consider.

    But in a community with little reliable public transportation, “the poor and marginalized people won’t be able to vote because, bottom line, they won’t be able to get to the polls,” said the Rev. Christopher Johnson, the head of the Greater Augusta’s Interfaith Coalition — one of the groups fighting the change.

    Lincoln County Commission Chairman Walker Norman, a Republican, defended both the changes to the election board and the poll closures, saying it will help move voters and election equipment to a central, modern facility…

    And he scoffed at the idea that people would have problems casting their ballots, saying “99.9 percent of the public today has automobiles” and can get to the central polling location. [20 miles away, in some cases]

    Moves in Georgia to close polling places — or make other changes to electoral procedures — once required advance federal approval under the 1965 Voting Rights Act to ensure they didn’t hurt Black and minority voters.
    A Supreme Court ruling in 2013 struck down the heart of that law, however, freeing Georgia and eight other states — along with a slew of counties and cities in other parts of the country with a history of racial discrimination — from that federal scrutiny.

  95. says

    Sen. Roger Marshall should’ve been embarrassed by his recent interaction with Dr. Anthony Fauci. Instead, the Kansas Republican sees a p.r. opportunity.


    For Sen. Roger Marshall, it was an unfortunate moment. During a committee hearing, the Kansas Republican badgered Dr. Anthony Fauci about his financial disclosure documents, which are readily available, but which the confused senator couldn’t find.

    As we discussed after the hearing, the two went back and forth for a while, with the senator apparently convinced that Fauci was hiding publicly available documents. When the senator’s time expired, and Marshall backed off, a live microphone caught Fauci whispering, “What a moron.”

    Ideally, this would be seen as an embarrassing moment that the freshman senator is eager to forget. But in contemporary Republican politics, where shame has no meaning, Marshall apparently believes the incident created an important opportunity. HuffPost noted:

    The GOP lawmaker plans to unveil the “FAUCI” Act, which stands for ― wait for it ― the Financial Accountability for Uniquely Compensated Individuals, a Marshall spokesperson told The Hill on Thursday. The Fauci Act “would require the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) website to provide the financial records of administration officials like Fauci and a list of those in the government whose financial records are not public,” The Hill wrote.

    So, Fauci’s financial disclosure documents are already online, which is why Marshall is pushing legislation that would put Fauci’s financial disclosure documents online.

    The point is not that the bill will pass and become law. The point is that the GOP senator is proud of his unfortunate display and is eager to capitalize on it.

    […] Talking Points Memo added yesterday:

    Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) is now looking to fundraise off the fact that the U.S.’s top infectious disease expert dubbed him a “moron” last week…. Marshall’s fundraising website features a shirt with an image of Fauci with the text “MORON” below.

    It’s quite likely that the financial appeal will work, which is part of the larger problem.

    The system of incentives is inherently unhealthy. Marshall’s antics suggest Republicans will benefit if they ask ridiculous questions, appear foolish, and annoy public officials the party’s base has been conditioned not to like.

    Fundraising off your own stupidity?

  96. says

    GOP governor sheds light on his party’s disinterest in governing

    Headed into the 2022 election cycle, Republican officials had a variety of specific goals, with one priority near the top of the list: convince New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu to run for the U.S. Senate.

    To that end, party officials not only begged the GOP governor to take on Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, they also pitched the idea that he’d love being a senator. Sununu told The Washington Examiner that the appeals very nearly worked — right up until he heard about his would-be colleagues’ governing plans.

    “I was pretty close,” Sununu told the Washington Examiner this month during an interview. “I wasn’t ready to make an announcement, but I was like, ‘OK, this makes sense. I think I could be a voice nationally.'” Everything changed after the governor consulted with Republican senators about the aspects of serving on Capitol Hill and what to expect for at least the first two years on the job. Sununu did not like what he heard.

    “They were all, for the most part, content with the speed at which they weren’t doing anything,” the governor added. “It was very clear that we just have to hold the line for two years. OK, so I’m just going to be a roadblock for two years. That’s not what I do.”

    The Examiner’s report added that Sununu spoke with most members of the Senate Republican Conference and found that virtually all of them intended to do nothing but obstruct until the next Republican presidency. “It bothered me that they were OK with that,” Sununu said.

    The governor went on to ask GOP senators why they didn’t get things done when they held Congress and the White House in 2017 and 2018. “Crickets. Yeah, crickets,” Sununu said. “They had no answer.”

    […] Part of what makes revelations like these notable are the implications of the message. There are still a few congressional Democrats who claim to genuinely believe that Republicans are ready and eager to work in good faith toward compromise solutions. If only Democrats would give GOP lawmakers a chance, the argument goes, and participate in sincere bipartisan talks, a world of policy breakthroughs await.

    I can only hope these Democrats consider what Sununu freely acknowledged: Behind the scenes, Republican senators not only admitted that they’re not doing any real work, they boasted that they intend to keep rejecting real work until their party controls the White House again.

    What’s more, it’s not just Sununu — and it’s not just behind the scenes. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said last year that “100 percent” of his party’s focus is on “stopping” President Joe Biden. Two months later, Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas said he considered it the House GOP’s job to stand in the way of legislative progress so that Republicans might benefit from the “chaos.”

    A few months after that, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin urged people to “pray for” legislative gridlock on Capitol Hill.

    None of this is a secret. Some of the discussions unfold in private; some of the rhetoric is aired on national television. Democrats need not speculate about the GOP’s governing intentions; prominent Republican voices often admit that they have no intention of working with the governing majority on policy solutions.

    Now seems like an excellent time for the political world to believe them.

  97. says

    New York AG presents new evidence of Trump Organization fraud

    For the first time, New York’s attorney general’s office has leveled specific allegations of Trump Organization fraud and “pervasive” deceptions.

    It was nearly three years ago when New York’s attorney general’s office opened a civil investigation into the Trump Organization. Over the course of 34 months, the examination into Donald Trump’s business operation has clearly produced meaningful findings. NBC News reported overnight:

    New York Attorney General Letitia James disclosed new details Tuesday night about her civil investigation into former President Donald Trump’s business, saying the probe has uncovered evidence suggesting the fraudulent valuing of multiple assets and misrepresentations of those values to financial institutions for economic benefit.

    […] James is eager to question the former president and two of his adult children under oath as part of the probe. Trump and his lawyers want to block the subpoenas, leading the New York attorney general’s office to respond last night in a court filing, explaining the significance of the revelations to date.

    […] “The Trumps must comply with our lawful subpoenas for documents and testimony because no one in this country can pick and choose if and how the law applies to them.”

    […] the ongoing probe is examining whether Trump’s business committed fraud in reporting the value of certain properties to banks and tax authorities. And while a controversy surrounding how the Republican’s operation valued its assets may sound like a boring topic, it’s proving to be a surprisingly potent problem.

    “In light of the pervasive and repeated nature of the misstatements and omissions, it appears that the valuations in the Statements were generally inflated as part of a pattern to suggest that Mr. Trump’s net worth was higher than it otherwise would have appeared,” James added. [LOL]

    […] the investigation is ongoing. In fact, James’ office specifically noted yesterday that it “has not yet reached a final decision regarding whether this evidence merits legal action.”

    As for what possible “actions” are on the table, this is a civil matter, so the state attorney general could sue the Trump Organization, but not file criminal charges. But that doesn’t make it less relevant. For one thing, there’s recent history to consider: It was civil investigations launched by the New York attorney general’s office that led to the dismantling of Trump’s bogus “university” and the former president’s fraudulent charitable foundation.

    For another, the Trump Organization is already facing criminal charges in a separate matter, with charges having been filed against the business and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.

    […] The written statement accused the Trump Organization of having:

    Misstated objective facts, like the size of Mr. Trump’s Trump Tower penthouse

    Miscategorized assets outside Mr. Trump’s or the Trump Organization’s control as “cash,” thereby overstating his liquidity

    Misstated the process by which Mr. Trump or his associates reached valuations, including deviations from generally accepted accounting principles in ways that the statements did not disclose

    Failed to use fundamental techniques of valuation, like discounting future revenues and expenses to their present value, or choosing as “comparables” only similar properties in order to impute valuations from public sales data

    Misstated the purported involvement of “outside professionals” in reaching the valuation

    Failed to advise that certain valuation amounts were inflated by an undisclosed amount for brand value. […]

  98. says


    […] For each of the Trumps in question, the attorney general’s filings detail a series of documents they signed, and phone calls or meetings in which they participated, during which misleading or fraudulent valuations were attached to properties, loans were lobbied for, or tax benefits were obtained. Their testimony is therefore relevant to a legitimate investigation, the documents show—not the politically motivated “witch hunt” the Trumps have alleged in their efforts to avoid testifying.

    But the really fun stuff comes in the supplemental verified petition laying out some of the factual basis for the investigation. A lot of it is creative bookkeeping—and some of it is close to home. Trump inflated the size and worth of his own apartment in Trump Tower. The apartment is an imposing 10,996 square feet, but that wasn’t enough for Trump, who claimed it was 30,000 square feet, and reported its value on that basis in official documents. Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, conceded that this inflated the property’s value by $200 million, “give or take.”

    Trust Donald Trump to lie about how big his house is. It stands to reason, though. We already knew he lies about the size of everything else. […]


  99. says


    n the recent indictment of eleven OathKeepers on charges of seditious conspiracy most had already been charged with other crimes. However, two individuals were newly charged for the first time. They were OathKeeper President Stewart Rhodes and his right hand man Ed Vallejo. Last night the government filed this motion and brief in support of denying Vallejo bail and keeping him in jail pending trial. The motion provides chilling new details into the plot to violently stop the counting of electoral college votes and the continued threat from these people long after January 6th.

    Vallejo did not enter the Capitol because he was in charge of a “Quick Reaction Force” (QRF) at a nearby hotel. His was one of two such forces identified.

    On January 5th Vallejo and others stocked his QRF with “at least three luggage carts’ worth of gun boxes, rifle cases, and suitcases filled with ammunition.” Later large bags and bins were brought in that contained more weapons and ammunition. They also contained provisions to last for up to 30 days.

    You see, the plan was to seize the Capitol, including members of Congress, and hold them for as long as a month. The motion includes the above pictures of them moving stuff into the hotel room. [Photo available at the link]

    On the morning of January 6th Rhodes messaged the group that Vallejo’s QRF was one of several they had and one of “many, many” set up by unspecified “other groups” […]


  100. says

    Mark Kelly says he will support an exception from the filibuster to help pass election reform legislation.

    The Arizona Democrat, up for reelection in 2022, has previously held off on endorsing Senate rules changes.

    Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), up for reelection in 2022 in what’s expected to be a tight contest, said for the first time Wednesday that he would support exempting election reform legislation from the Senate filibuster rules this week.

    From a statement:

    “If campaign finance and voting rights reforms are blocked again this week, I will support the proposed changes to pass them with a majority vote … I’ve considered what rules changes would mean not just today, but years down the road, for both parties and all Arizonans.”— Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.)

    Also, ouch: Kelly added: “If NASA or the Navy functioned like the United States Senate, we would never get the rocket off the launchpad and in combat we’d never complete the mission.”

    Reality check: Kelly’s support won’t change the ultimate outcome here. His Arizona Democratic colleague, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) have made very clear that they won’t invoke the so-called “nuclear option” to change the rules with Democratic votes alone.

    […] We reported last week on how Kelly was undecided on whether to support chipping away at the filibuster


  101. says

    Super-Christian GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw Won’t Have People Questioning His Faith By Directly Quoting Him.

    Wonkette link

    Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) made quite a spectacle of himself during a Q and A at a Tea Party event Monday night. A young woman — misidentified in some retweets as a “10 year old girl,” but she’s actually 18 and a volunteer for a rightwing primary rival of Crenshaw — had a question about some weird pseudointellectual musings Crenshaw had made in a 2020 podcast interview in which he seemed to suggest Jesus was a fictional character.

    That prompted the congressman to lose his shit, demanding she not question his faith and accusing her of “twisting” his words, as members of the audience started booing and heckling him.

    Here’s one video of the exchange (there’s another that doesn’t turn sideways, but the young woman is nearly inaudible in it. That one does include a bit more of her introductory remarks, in which she says Crenshaw “lied about being a Christian”) [video is available at the link]

    The young woman quotes Crenshaw ham-handedly talking about “hero archetypes” in a March 2020 podcast with someone named Jocko, and notes that Crenshaw had said:

    CRENSHAW: The most important thing here is that we have important hero archetypes that we look up to. Jesus is a hero archetype. Superman is a hero archetype. Real characters, too. I could name a thousand: Rosa Parks, Ronald Reagan.

    The woman followed that with “I can’t wrap my head around this.” Crenshaw shot back angrily, “Well, let me help you. Put a period after the word ‘Jesus’ and don’t question my faith.”

    People in the crowd booed […]

    Crenshaw stuck to his guns, because darned if he was going to let anyone out-Jesus him:

    CRENSHAW: Don’t question my faith. You guys can ask questions about all of these things, but don’t question my faith.

    WOMAN: I can question your faith if this is what you said.

    CRENSHAW: You can read the quote again. But nowhere in that quote am I saying ‘Jesus is not real.’ That’s a ridiculous statement.

    An audience member then shouted. “He’s the Son of GOD!” and Crenshaw replied, “Of course He’s the Son of God and of course He’s real.”

    The woman accused Crenshaw of saying two different things about Jesus, one on the podcast, and another there at the meeting. He said he didn’t think anyone listening to the podcast would have misunderstood his point, and that “I think you’re twisting it that way,” prompting hoots and more catcalls from the tea partiers.

    That was followed, logically enough, by a couple of chants of the traditional expression of Christian faith, “Let’s go, Brandon! Let’s go, Brandon!” because it’s Texas and they’re tea partiers and Jesus wants you to say “Fuck you, Biden” whenever you can, as long as you’re polite about it.

    Because Yr Wonkette loves you and wants you to understand the context of this dumb Jesus Fight, we listened to a few minutes of the podcast immediately before and after the bit the young woman quoted, and we’d say she quoted him pretty much accurately, although she left out a bit of very dumb pseudo-intellectual context that probably won’t matter anyway. Crenshaw’s remarks about “societal hero archetypes” were part of a longer rant about how attention-seeking media figures who take offense to every last little thing are bad for America. Yes, irony is dead once again.

    Was Crenshaw literally calling Jesus a fictional character? We don’t think so, but then we’re a godforsaken America-hating atheist commie who went to grad school and dissertated about archetypes like Bugs Bunny. His point was that the figures Americans supposedly all look up to, like Jesus, Superman, Rosa Parks, and Ronald Reagan, all have certain admirable characteristics in common. Yes, Rosa Parks, who put herself in danger by refusing to sit in the back of the bus, and Ronald Reagan, who infamously kicked off his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three civil rights workers were murdered. Archetypal peas in a pod they were.

    […] Crenshaw will probably remain in trouble with the faithful for his heretical insistence that Donald Trump actually lost the 2020 election, when True Believers know in their hearts that Jesus is Lord and an Italian satellite changed all the votes.

    While the young woman in the video hasn’t yet been identified by name — lucky her! […] Twitter Detective turned up a photo of her holding a campaign sign for Ellis […]

    Ellis later tweeted out a statement acknowledging she’s a “supporter” of his campaign, but emphatically stating that “no one from my campaign remotely suggested” that she should confront Crenshaw. But hey, since she happened to bring forward some very convenient oppo research against Crenshaw, Ellis added that he and his campaign are “VERY PROUD” of her courage in standing up for her Christian faith, yadda yadda yadda.

    Ellis is running well to the right of Crenshaw, retweeting calls for justice for the “political prisoners” jailed while awaiting trial for participating in the January 6 insurrection. Just to burnish his far-right credentials, he also recently called Crenshaw a “principled RINO” and a “globalist shill,” not that there’s anything wrong with a few anti-Semitic tropes among good Christian conservatives.

    So no, no heroes or even hero archetypes are to be found in this wingnut-on-wingnut violence, regardless of their age.

  102. says

    New episode of Fever Dreams – “Slagged Across Concrete, Feat. Jonathan Katz”:

    The latest conspiracy theory to convulse MAGA-land does not involve COVID-19 boosters or deep-state January 6 plots, but a bit of routine construction at dear old 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—which has convinced some on the right that Biden is about to impose martial law. Meanwhile, Trump’s favorite network One America News is in trouble, and the former president is threatening to crush and “destroy” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis if he doesn’t fall in line for 2024. And finally, the co-hosts discuss the Ray Epps saga, a rightwing deep-state conspiracy about a January 6 that has made it all the way to the January 6 committee—and that has caused a spate of young rightwingers accusing likeminded boomers of “being feds”—and journalist Jonathan M. Katz joins the podcast to talk about his book, Gangsters of Capitalism, about a man named Smedley Butler who was involved in most of the U.S. invasions and occupations and wars around the turn of the century and who eventually became an antiwar activist and “blew the whistle on a fascist plot to overthrow Franklin Delano Roosevelt.”

  103. says

    That’s odd:

    […] The court [Supreme Court] issued a written statement this morning that read in its entirety, “Reporting that Justice Sotomayor asked Justice Gorsuch to wear a mask surprised us. It is false. While we may sometimes disagree about the law, we are warm colleagues and friends.”

    The justices appear to have denied a claim that no one made. The NPR report, for example, never said that Sotomayor asked Gorsuch to wear a mask. Rather, Totenberg reported that Roberts asked justices to mask up, and each of them obliged — except Gorsuch.

    What’s more, CNN reported that Sotomayor expressed concerns to the chief justice, but never directly asked Gorsuch to wear mask protection.

    I can appreciate why it may seem like I’m splitting hairs, but if anyone in the country can appreciate the importance of specific textual analysis, it’s members of the Supreme Court.

    What we’re left with is a series of reported assertions: Roberts asked justices to wear masks, Gorsuch didn’t, and Sotomayor has felt the need to keep her distance as a result of Gorsuch’s decisions.

    Today’s written statement from the court doesn’t challenge any of these reported claims.


  104. says

    Just Security – “EXCLUSIVE: The Oath Keeper Podcast Interviews – New Insights Into Jan. 6 and Continued Threats”:

    In documents filed by the Department of Justice against members of the Oath Keepers militia in recent days, prosecutors reference podcast appearances by Edward Vallejo, one of the Oath Keepers indicted for seditious conspiracy in an attempt to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. Vallejo, however, was not the only Oath Keeper to appear on the podcast series. And some of what Vallejo and others said, in their exchanges with the show’s sympathetic host, sheds light on the mindset and role of the Oath Keepers and their expectations that President Trump would act in concert with their efforts.

    What’s more, in podcast appearances after the attack on Jan. 6, the Oath Keeper’s founder and leader, Stewart Rhodes, discussed his strategic goals for the militia movement’s future in terms that reflect the diffuse threat these militia groups pose in different parts of the country.

    Just Security has located and reviewed appearances by the Oath Keepers on the podcast — Declare Your Independence with Ernest Hancock –– and reviewed four episodes that feature members of the Oath Keepers including Vallejo and Rhodes.

    The Justice Department alleges Rhodes led the Oath Keeper’s seditious conspiracy. Vallejo allegedly served on a heavily armed team staged at a hotel in Arlington, Virginia that ran operations on Jan. 6 and was prepared to serve as a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) in the case of escalation. A third Oath Keeper whom the DOJ identifies as “another member of his Arizona QRF team,” is identified on the podcast as Todd Kandaris, appearing alongside Vallejo. There is no public record that Kandaris has been arrested or indicted for events at the Capitol.

    In an interview on the morning of Jan. 6, Vallejo said, “We have a little bit of inside information with the powers that would oppose the powers that be, but this is a tinderbox. It just is a question of what is the precipitating event.”

    In a Jan. 15 appearance on the podcast, Rhodes — in unguarded comments he made while assuming he was off the air — expressed disappointment with President Trump for not using the powers available to him to take action. “Trump is the giant vagina. That’s what I think.” Rhodes had previously called on the President to use the Insurrection Act to prevent the transfer of power….

    Transcripts and audio at the link. Great work by Ryan Goodman and Justin Hendrix. One thing that stands out is how much they actually believe a lot of the propaganda conspiracy-theory bullshit. It’s January 2021. They think the military’s on their/Trump’s side. They still think any moment there could be a massive popular uprising. They think there’s all this information about the deep state and the pedophiles and what have you that Trump can declassify to convince the public. They think Trump cares about them. They’re just waking up, on January Fucking 19th, 2021, to the fact that he cares only about himself. They think Biden and Harris will immediately invoke the Insurrection Act….

    Vallejo: I’m just praying to God that Trump has his head on fucking straight and he knows what he’s doing. He’s got the machinations behind him. He’s got all the proof in the world, and he’s gonna bring the hammer down.

    Hancock: I hope so, but I, I…

    Vallejo: You know, that’s the only, that’s our only, only hope that if, if that doesn’t happen, the shit is on.

    Kandaris: This is, as we say, that moment of truth. … The people who controlled Rome controlled the army, okay. They controlled the military. If you have the loyalty of the military, then the rest doesn’t matter. And we can make anything pretty and modern about it. But that brutal truth is still the determining factor about who controls what. So if he has the military behind him, Trump will win. If he does not, he won’t.

    Hancock: Well, what do you think?

    Vallejo: I don’t have enough inside information to know, but my inclination is that he probably does.

    Kandaris: Are there more people coming? If they do what’s gonna happen? It’s not really plausible to non violently protest anymore because the entire area is closed off and corded and curfewed. So the question becomes when we realize that this wrong has been done, uh, what are the next steps? I mean, is this the shot heard ‘round the world moment? I don’t know. I don’t know.

    Hancock: You know, we’re out of the TPP, we’re out of the Paris Accords. We’re out. I mean a lot of these things better not, but I’m like, you know, you didn’t fundamentally change anything. You know, where, where… Q’s been promising all this frog marching of a long line of indicted somebodies, you know what was that? You know, that seemed like a, you know, a PSYOP from the beginning. So I’m, you know, yeah. You can talk about Q and what he did and didn’t do. And now what’s Oath Keepers and a lot of the, your people that supported him…

    Rhodes: Whatever, you know what? I don’t care anymore. Screw Trump. He didn’t do what he was supposed to do. He, he could do a massive, we should talk about this when we come off break. He could still do the right thing and do a massive declassification and data dump and expose the deep state, expose all of the corruption…

    Hancock: Yeah, I’m wondering, what’s real going on. See, this is my biggest concern. We were doing the Trump report for five years. Every week.

    Rhodes: He’s getting a deal for himself. That’s what’s going on.

    Rhodes: Well, all, all I see right now is him scrambling to try to pardon his kids and pardon himself. And I think it’s just all about him. I hate to say it, but that’s just what I see. And you know, you got all these, uh, Trump, I mean, Hey, I voted for Trump, uh, I was a Trump supporter, but the man’s not delivered. He can still, and here’s, and of course, here come the excuses in, we were surrounded by bad people and the Democrats were stopping him, and blah blah blah blah. He has absolute authority. It’s in his hands to declassify. Just like he has absolute authority to declare an insurrection. He can do that too. And he should have done it over the summer when they were burning down cities and, and shooting cops in the streets and, and declaring communist revolution. That’s what he could have done like that. But here’s the thing. As soon as Biden gets in there, he is going to use it. He will not hesitate. Biden and Harris will use an Insurrection Act along with enemy combatant status, talked about a little while ago, and then we’re just gonna have free war, that’s what’s gonna happen.

    Rhodes: I think there’s, there’s, it’s too late to avoid it at this point. Trump had the last chance, or still does, if he ever actually mans up, to avoid it right now, by doing that mass declassification. Cause it’s all about the court of public opinion. And in particular, the military opinion, if the rank and file military realizes that our entire system of government and all three branches top to bottom is full of traitors and pedophiles and, and you know, compromised freaks, then they will not be loyal to them and they’ll be loyal to the people and they’re more likely to stand down and not fire on us and when Biden and Harris order them to. That’s what’s so critical. So, you know, if you wanna set aside and not use the Insurrection Act, great, but at least do the mass declassification and data dump, do it right now. That’s what he has to do and not bureaucratic style. I mean go seize the data, go order the loyal humans still in the military, go seize the damn CIA databases and just dump ’em all, you know, Wikileaks style, Julian Assange style, or Snowden style… that’s what Trump can and should do. And no excuses.

    It’s astonishing. As is clear from Jeffrey Herf’s The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda During World War II and the Holocaust, believing insane conspiracy theories is a strategic disadvantage, and we should use it against contemporary fascists.

  105. says

    Good news – CNN – “Supreme Court clears the way for House to get Trump White House documents”:

    The Supreme Court cleared the way Wednesday for the release of presidential records from the Trump White House to a congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

    The court’s order means that more than 700 documents that could shed light on the events leading up to the insurrection when hundreds of rioters converged on the Capitol attempting to stop certification of the 2020 presidential election results will be transferred to Congress.

    The move effectively moots former President Donald Trump’s pending appeal in the case that centered on keeping the documents secret.

    8-1 decision.

  106. says

    #150 isn’t to suggest we’re not in grave danger.

    New episode of On the Media – “A Question of War”:

    Since the insurrection on January 6, warnings of a second American Civil War have been sounded. This week, On the Media explores whether the civil war talk is an alarmist cry, or actually a sober assessment. Plus, hear how the myth of “the Dark Ages” paints an unfair portrait of medieval times.

    1. David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker and host of the New Yorker Radio Hour, on the risk of second civil war.

    2. Barbara Walter…, professor of International Relations at the University of California, San Diego, on the tell-tale signs that a country is headed for insurgence.

    3. Charlie Warzel…, journalist and contributing writer at The Atlantic, on when journalists should sound the alarm (and how loud we should ring it).

    4. David M. Perry…and Matthew Gabriele…, authors of The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe, on how the Dark Ages might have not been so dark.

  107. says

    Politico – “Jan. 6 investigators subpoena far-right figures who promoted election fraud claims”:

    The panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection on Wednesday subpoenaed two fringe far-right figures, known for spreading misinformation about the results of the 2020 election and urging Republicans to overturn it.

    Nick Fuentes, a head of the extremist America First movement, has gained prominence by agitating false claims about election fraud and was on Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, 2021, although there’s no evidence he entered the building. Fuentes, a white nationalist who celebrated the attack in its aftermath, notably hosted Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) as a keynote speaker at a conference last year, just weeks after the attack.

    Patrick Casey was also a leader of the America First movement and similarly advocated false claims of election fraud. He promoted Jan. 5 and 6 events on his Telegram account, used for encrypted messaging, according to the committee. Investigators also cited an email from his attorney placing him outside the Capitol on Jan. 6.

    Both figures are asked to produce documents by Feb. 2 and to appear for a deposition by Feb. 9. The two figures, through their attorneys, had previously declined voluntary requests to appear and produce documents last November, according to the committee.

    From the committee’s letter to Fuentes:

    …On November 14, 2020, you rallied with America First/Groyper followers at the Million MAGA March in Washington, D.C., urging your followers to “storm every state capitol until January 20, 2021, until President Trump is inaugurated for four more years.” You were also a prominent figure at “Stop the Steal” rallies in Atlanta, Georgia, on and around November 19, 2020, alongside featured speakers such as Alex Jones and Ali Alexander inside and outside the State Capitol, where you discussed potential actions including showing up outside the homes of politicians. On December 12, 2020, you spoke to a crowd of supporters at the “Stop the Steal” events in Washington, D.C., calling for the destruction of the Republican Party for failing to overturn the election.

    On January 6, 2021, you rallied with your followers outside the Capitol. You called on your followers to continue occupying the Capitol until the election results were overturned, and proclaimed a “Glorious day” on your Twitter. Photos and videos taken on January 6th appear to show America First followers in the Capitol. The next day, you wrote on Twitter, “The Capitol Siege was f***ing awesome and I’m not going to pretend it wasn’t.”

    Less than a month before the Capitol attack, you reportedly received a large donation of Bitcoin, worth more than $250,000, that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is reportedly scrutinizing to assess whether the money was linked to the Capitol attack or otherwise used to fund illegal acts….

  108. says

    From yesterday’s DK “Anti-Vaxx Chronicles” – “COVID is the leading cop killer the past two years, and this story hints at why.”

    This guy is one of many who shared a tweet from “[Dr. Ad-m An–vit].” As kos noted back in September:

    this is interesting, and a fascinating look at the right-wing Facebook propaganda machine. Meet [Dr. Ad-m An–vit]. He’s a doctor from Melbourne. Er, Iowa. Or is it Dublin? His headshot is artificial-intelligence-generated from ThisPersonDoesNot exist. There is no record this person exists, because clearly he’s part of a Russian or Chinese or MAGA disinformation campaign. And he has over 13,000 followers on Twitter.

    The account is still on Twitter, now with almost 30,000 followers, continuing to spread the same rightwing and anti-vaccine propaganda and lies. The bio reads: “Welcome to the official Twitter page of [Dr. Ad-m An–vit]. Non-medical Lecturer & Political advisor pArOdY. Views my own. Vaccination Status: Uncompromised.” Whatever they’re doing to get around Twitter rules, I’ve seen dozens of posts with this account’s tweets from Herman Cain Awardees, and none of them believed it was a parody account. There’s nothing distinguishing it from any other disinformation account or marking it as parody other than the single word in the bio, which even it’s seen is deliberately undermined by the capitalization (plainly intended to signal to people that it’s only included as a policy-skirting ploy).

  109. says

    Guardian – “Djokovic-backed ‘biotech’ firm’s approach likened to homeopathy”:

    A Danish “biotech” company in which Novak Djokovic holds a majority stake is working on a “frequency” treatment for Covid-19 that an expert says bears similarities to the principles of homeopathy.

    On Wednesday it emerged Djokovic had acquired an 80% stake in QuantBioRes, the website of which says it designs treatments for viral diseases and resistant bacteria through “predicting the electromagnetic frequency” that can interfere with a virus’s activity.

    “At QuantBioRes, we work in utilising unique and novel Resonant Recognition Model … a biophysical model based on findings that certain periodicities/frequencies within the distribution of energies of free electrons along the protein are critical for protein biological function and interaction with protein receptors and other targets,” the website says.

    It carries a quote from the Serbian-American scientist Nikola Tesla: “If you wish to understand the universe, think of energy, frequency and vibration.”

    Dr Darren Saunders, an Australian biomedical scientist, said the approach described on the QuantBioRes website was reminiscent of homeopathy, an alternative and unproven treatment that claims illness-causing substances can, in minute doses, treat people who are unwell.

    Homeopaths claim that by diluting these substances in water or alcohol, the resulting mixture retains an “imprint” of “frequency” of the original substance that triggers a healing response in the body by causing an energetic shift.

    Saunders said in his opinion it was “a stretch” for QuantBioRes to call itself a biotech company. “The ‘innovative technology’ they describe on their website does not reflect contemporary understanding of how biochemistry works,” Saunders said. “If any athletes or other potential investors would like advice on not blowing their cash on this stuff, my fees are reasonable.”

    The website says the company will “soon start testing different treatment approaches”, but a link encouraging people to “learn more” appeared to be broken when the Guardian attempted to access it. A link to a July 2020 announcement that QuantBioRes would test Covid-19 deactivation mechanisms also appeared to be broken.

    Prof Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases physician and antimicrobial resistance expert, said the QuantBioRes website used “fancy terms” without providing any evidence of success of the methods it promoted. “They’ve given nothing in the way of data,” he said. “People are looking out for new molecules all the time, but the website describes a way of finding a new molecule without providing any evidence of success.”

    The chief executive of QuantBioRes, Ivan Loncarevic, denied that the methods developed by his company had anything to do with homeopathy, and defended the lack of data on the company’s website.

    He said other pioneers in engineering or science, such as Elon Musk and Galileo, had faced similar criticism when first airing their views. On the subject of broken links, he said this was the first time he had heard of the problem and “it’s not [done] on purpose”.

    Elon Musk and Galileo.

  110. says

    No, Republicans should not be taking credit for an infrastructure bill they voted against.

    [snipped examples showing Republicans taking credit for earlier programs/bills they had tried to kill]

    This year, the GOP is taking steps to complete the trifecta, claiming credit for the infrastructure package that Biden signed after the majority of congressional Republicans rejected the legislation.

    The first example of this came to light shortly before Thanksgiving, when Republican Rep. Gary Palmer of Alabama touted funding in the infrastructure package that will benefit his constituents, without noting that he voted against the bill. This week, as HuffPost noted, we’re starting to see some new examples.

    With money starting to flow in for new projects around the country thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure law Congress approved last year, more Republicans are attempting to take credit despite the fact that they opposed the legislation. In a press release issued by her office on Wednesday, Rep. Ashley Hinson (R) touted “game-changing” funding of $829 million announced by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that is aimed toward modernizing locks and dams on the Mississippi River, which borders her Eastern Iowa district.

    In a tweet yesterday, the Iowa Republican boasted that “we” had secured dam funding in her district. It led to an obvious follow-up question for Hinson: “What do you mean, ‘we’?”

    When it came time to vote up or down on the infrastructure package, Hinson voted with her party against the bill. The congresswoman soon after issued a written statement, condemning the bipartisan legislation as “a partisan, socialist spending spree.” In fact, the Iowan referred to “socialist” or “socialism” in her statement four times.

    Yesterday, however, as this “socialist spending spree” started benefiting her constituents, Hinson issued a new statement, claiming she “helped lead” on this issue.

    Bullshit. The Republican legislator is lying. There is no “we.” She did not “lead” on the issues. She is not a leader. She is acting like a con artist.

    Similarly yesterday, Republican Rep. Kay Granger of Texas touted new funding for the Trinity River Vision/Central City flood control project — funding made possible by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

    What her press release didn’t mention is that Granger voted to kill the bill, and condemned the package at the time as a “socialist plan full of crushing taxes and radical spending.”

    […] Hinson, Granger, and their colleagues should also be mindful of the context: Republicans condemned the infrastructure bill in no uncertain terms, before launching an offensive against the modest number of GOP lawmakers who dared to make it bipartisan by voting for it.

    Either the new law is reckless socialism, or it’s poised to make worthwhile investments that will help a lot of people. Either Republicans are going to make the case against the package, or they’re going to celebrate the parts of it that benefit their constituents.

    When the GOP tries to do both at the same time — just as the party did with the Recovery Act and the American Rescue Plan — Republicans shouldn’t be surprised when they get called out for their brazenness.


  111. says

    Guardian – “Trump held secret meetings in days before Capitol attack, ex-press secretary tells panel”:

    The former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack that Donald Trump hosted secret meetings in the White House residence in days before 6 January, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

    The former senior Trump aide also told House investigators that the details of whether Trump actually intended to march to the Capitol after his speech at the Ellipse rally would be memorialized in documents provided to the US Secret Service, the sources said.

    The select committee’s interview with Grisham, who was Melania Trump’s chief of staff when she resigned on 6 January, was more significant than expected, the sources said, giving the panel new details about the Trump White House and what the former US president was doing before the Capitol attack.

    Grisham gave House investigators an overview of the chaotic final weeks in the Trump White House in the days leading up to the Capitol attack, recalling how the former president held off-the-books meetings in the White House residence, the sources said….

    Much more at the link.

  112. says

    Re Lynna’s #160 – Rep. Swalwell responded to Hinson on Twitter: “Tell the truth @RepAshleyHinson — you didn’t vote for this bill. You voted for a dam collapse. If you had your way your neighbors would be underwater. Thankfully, @HouseDemocrats passed this bill and we did your dam job. Give me a break.”

  113. says

    Knoxville News Sentinel – “Tennessee-based adoption agency refuses to help couple because they’re Jewish”:

    A Knoxville couple is suing the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, saying a state-sponsored Christian-based adoption agency refused to help them because they are Jewish.

    It is the state’s first lawsuit to challenge a new law that allows religious adoption agencies to deny service to families whose religious or moral beliefs aren’t in sync with the provider’s, the family’s attorney told Knox News on Wednesday.

    The adoption agency, the Holston United Methodist Home for Children based in Greeneville, Tennessee, denied Elizabeth and Gabriel Rutan-Ram from acquiring Tennessee-mandated foster-parent training and a home-study certification as they attempted to adopt a child from Florida last year, the Rutan-Rams say.
    Elizabeth and Gabriel Rutan-Ram are suing the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and its director after a Christian adoption agency under state contract refused to help the couple foster and adopt a child because the Rutan-Rams are Jewish. A recently passed state law allows religious groups to refuse to provide services to people whose faith does not align with theirs.

    The organization was previously but is no longer an arm of the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church. A spokesperson for the conference directed questions to the home.

    In December, the Greenville-based Holston sued the Biden administration for regulations that prohibit discrimination in programs funded by U.S. Health and Human Services grants “on the basis of religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and same-sex marriage status,” saying it violates its First Amendment rights.

    In that lawsuit, the organization said it receives public money to provide foster care placement and training, among other services, for the state Department of Children’s Services.

    The Home for Children’s president and CEO Bradley Williams could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Instead, a receptionist at Home for Children told Knox News to email the organization’s law firm, Alliance Defending Freedom, which bills itself as “the world’s largest legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, marriage and family, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.” Representatives of the firm did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

    The lawsuit was filed Wednesday by Americans United for Separation of Church and State on behalf of the Rutan-Rams in Davidson County Chancery Court. A spokesperson for DCS declined to comment on pending litigation, as did a spokesperson from the state Attorney General’s Office.

    The lawsuit comes nearly two years to the date that Gov. Bill Lee signed into law a measure that allows religious adoption agencies to deny service to same-sex couples. The law allows adoption agencies to refuse to participate in a child placement if doing so would “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.”…

    More at the link.

  114. tomh says

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
    BREAKING: Fulton DA requests special grand jury for Trump probe
    By Tamar Hallerman
    1 hour ago

    Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is requesting a special grand jury to aid in her investigation of former President Donald Trump and his efforts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results.

    In a Thursday letter to Christopher S. Brasher, chief judge of Fulton County’s Superior Court, Willis said the move was needed because a “significant number of witnesses and prospective witnesses have refused to cooperate with the investigation absent a subpoena requiring their testimony.”

    She cited comments Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger made during an October 2021 interview with NBC News’ Chuck Todd, in which he said “if she wants to interview me, there’s a process for that.”

  115. johnson catman says

    re SC @158: Thanks! I did see PZ’s post also. I clicked but haven’t had time to explore it yet.

  116. says

    SC @162. Nice. He said that well.

    In other news: “Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell argued, “African-American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans.” Oh my.”

    As Republicans successfully blocked Democratic voting rights legislation again last night, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell fielded a few reporters’ questions. One asked, “What’s your message for voters of color who are concerned that without the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, they’re not going to be able to vote in the midterms?”

    The Kentucky Republican, who’s spent months pretending his party hasn’t imposed new voting restrictions, offered a response that generated a lot of attention for a reason:

    “Well, the concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, African-American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans.”

    At face value, the comments were controversial for an obvious reason: The Senate GOP leader seemed to suggest that he sees a distinction between Americans and African Americans. […]

    But if we’re generous and give McConnell the benefit of the doubt, it’s likely that he meant Black voters participate in elections at roughly the same rate as American averages overall.

    The trouble is, that’s not quite right, either. As a Washington Post analysis explained:

    With the exception of 2008 and 2012, Black turnout and Hispanic turnout have consistently been below White turnout. Saying that Black turnout aligns with the national level ignores that disparity. It’s like saying that Amy earns the average income on her team, since she makes $50,000 a year, Beth and Claire make $20,000, and Danielle makes $110,000. See? Everything’s fair.

    […] McConnell added, “A recent survey, 94 percent of Americans thought it was easier to vote. This is not a problem. Turnout is up, biggest turnout since 1900. It’s simply — they’re being sold a bill of goods.”

    The poll he referenced exists: The Pew Research Center really did find that 94 percent of American voters described voting as easy in the 2020 cycle.

    But the last four words of the last sentence are the ones that matter most. As we recently discussed, the Pew poll was conducted in November 2020. In the months that followed, Republican policymakers, fueled by Donald Trump’s Big Lie, approved 33 laws in 19 states that make it harder for Americans to participate in their own democracy. And as dramatic as these efforts were in 2021, there’s already evidence the GOP’s anti-voting crusade will continue in 2022.

    McConnell effectively argued last night that voter participation rates in 2020 show that there’s no real problem in need of a solution. Of course, if the voting laws and elections procedures that existed in November 2020 were left intact — procedures that made it easier for Americans to cast ballots during a pandemic — Democrats and other democracy advocates wouldn’t be quite so desperate to pass legislation such as the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

    And therein lies the point: Those voting laws and elections procedures are no longer intact.

    […] McConnell defended an election landscape that no longer exists by pointing to poll results measuring support for laws that members of his party deliberately targeted.


  117. says

    Sen. Amy Klobuchar all but called Joe Manchin a liar on filibuster stance as she slammed Republicans

    When it was time for Joe Manchin to give his speech about modifying the filibuster to pass the voting rights bill, he made a fool of himself. He claimed that it would mean a Senate without rules even though the rule change would be for the voting rights bill only.

    Manchin willfully neglects that there are three far-Right Supreme Court Justices who are there because Mitch McConnell changed the filibuster to allow Supreme Court Justices to be installed on a 51-vote majority. It is clear that the poster behind Manchin is false. It said the following. “The United States has never been able to end debate with a simple majority.”

    But it was up to Amy Klobuchar who would call out Joe Manchin as a liar without mentioning him by name as she excoriated the Republicans.

    “There are 160 exceptions, 160 exceptions to the filibuster bull,” Amy Klobuchar said. “Things have been changed to benefit my colleagues from the other side of the aisle. Somehow it only takes 51 votes to put in place the Trump tax cuts or the Bush tax cuts. Somehow it only took 51 votes to put Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court of the United States, a change made by them. Somehow it only takes 51 votes to try to overturn a regulation or try to mess around with the Affordable Care Act. But then when it comes to something like voting rights, suddenly everyone on the other side of the aisle is hugging that filibuster tight knowing that so many times in history including most recently with a debt ceiling, changes have been made to allow a vote with less than 60 votes, the National Gas Policy Act in 1977, in 1995, the Endangered Species Act, in 1996 changed the reconciliation process.”

    Her closing sentence was prescient and needs to be on the tip of our tongues.

    “Silencing the people of America all in the name of an archaic senate rule that isn’t even in the constitution, that’s just wrong!”

    It could not be said any clearer.

  118. says

    Zelensky says ‘there are no minor incursions’ after Biden’s comments on Ukraine, Russia

    […] “We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations,” Zelensky wrote on Twitter. “Just as there are no minor casualties and little grief from the loss of loved ones. I say this as the President of a great power.”

    The tweet came after Biden, during his marathon press conference on Wednesday, appeared to suggest that Russia would face lesser consequences if Moscow launches a “minor incursion” against Kyiv.

    “I think what you’re going to see is that Russia will be held accountable if it invades. And it depends on what it does. It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and then we end up having a fight about what to do and not do,” Biden said.

    Biden has repeatedly warned that an invasion of Ukraine by Russia would result in decisive action, including strong sanctions.

    Pressed on his comments later in the news conference Biden said “It depends on what he does as to what extent we’re going to be able to get total unity on the [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] front,” suggesting that any response would require support among NATO allies.

    The White House quickly worked to clean up the president’s remarks, with press secretary Jen Psaki emphasizing Biden’s threat of a united response if Moscow invades.

    “President Biden has been clear with the Russian President: If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that’s a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe, and united response from the United States and our Allies,” Psaki said in a statement shortly after the press conference ended.

    “President Biden also knows from long experience that the Russians have an extensive playbook of aggression short of military action, including cyberattacks and paramilitary tactics. And he affirmed today that those acts of Russian aggression will be met with a decisive, reciprocal, and united response,” she added.

    The White House further sought to tamp down the confusion after Biden’s news conference, deploying Vice President Harris to the “Today Show” where she said “If Putin takes aggressive action, we are prepared to levy serious and severe costs, period.”

    Russia has amassed 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border, leading U.S. officials to warn that an invasion could occur at any moment.

  119. says

    Followup to comment 168.

    Biden clarifies any Russian movement into Ukraine ‘is an invasion’

    […] “I’ve been absolutely clear with President Putin. He has no misunderstanding. If any assembled Russian units move across the Ukrainian border, that is an invasion,” Biden said at the outset of an event on infrastructure.

    “Let there be no doubt at all that if Putin makes this choice, Russia will pay a heavy price,” Biden continued, noting there was also the potential for a cyberattack or para-military action by Russia that would require a coordinated response from the U.S. and its allies.

    “The Ukrainian foreign minister said this morning that he’s confident of our support and resolve and he has a right to be,” Biden said before shifting to infrastructure. […]

  120. says

    Indian MRAs Will ‘Boycott Marriage’ If Marital Rape Criminalized, Disappointing Nobody.

    Wonkette link

    India is one of the 36 remaining countries with no laws against marital rape. Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code currently defines rape as “non-consensual sexual intercourse with a woman,” but provides an exception for married couples where the wife is older than 15. There’s a lot that is disturbing about this, starting with the exception and moving on to the fact that rape is non-consensual sexual intercourse with anyone, not just women. But some of that is likely to change that week as the Delhi high court hears a case that may well result in marital rape finally being criminalized throughout the land.

    It seems almost impossible that anyone would oppose this, but there is a stunning amount of backlash, mostly from men. VICE reports that this week, #MarriageStrike has been trending on Twitter in India, with many men online saying they will refuse to get married if they aren’t allowed to rape their wives. […]

    Opposition to the potential new statute includes both men who say they fear the law will result in false accusations against husbands by wives seeking alimony payments, and men who actually believe they should be allowed to rape their wives and that not being allowed to rape their wives will result in the destruction of the family unit.

    “Already as of now in India, it is a crime for a man to get married. If a man gets married and if he is accused [of rape], there is no way for him to defend himself. He has no protection,” Anil Kumar, creator of the #marriagestrike hashtag and founder of men’s rights organisation Save Indian Family Foundation […]

    Men’s rights groups such as Purush Aayog are pushing back legally and saying rape laws have no space in a marriage.

    “I strongly think that consent and willingness of sexual acts are ingrained within the act of marriage. If you will bring this rape law inside the marriage and the husband will be given punishment, then who will marry?” Barkha Trehan, a woman and president of Purush Aayog, told VICE World News.

    “Just yesterday, I received 15 to 20 calls from different men who are of marriageable age and they told me: ‘Why would I get married? Do I want to spoil my career? Do I want to lose my dignity? Do I want to become the biggest criminal on earth behind bars for no reason? Why would I want to marry?’”

    As Indian feminist writer Dr. Meena Kandasamy noted on Twitter, “Men tweeting in favour of #marriagestrike are potential rapists. Possible rapists. Previous rapists. Why would any man who is self-respecting not want for marital rape to be criminalised? How can there be legal protection for rape only because it happens in a marriage?”

    In a 2006 survey of 80,000 Indian women, 93 percent said that they had been sexually abused by their current or former husbands, and in a 2016 survey of Indian women who had experienced sexual abuse, 83 percent named their current husband as the perpetrator, while seven percent cited their ex-husband. It’s clear a whole lot of these men consider marital rape a perk of the institution.

    Via IndiaToday:

    As per Nageshwar Rao, who served as director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), “What’s the purpose of marriage at all if husband was to be sent to jail for sex against his wife’s wish, doesn’t it destroy family, ruin children and break their marriage?”

    He goes on to say that a system where this happens is “anti-civilisational”. In a way, he reduces marriage to nothing more than legalised sex.

    Then Chief Justice of India SA Bobde’s observation in March 2021, on a plea filed by a man accused of rape by a woman who was in a relationship with him for two years, was “however brutal the husband is…when two people [are] living as husband and wife…can sexual intercourse between them be called rape?”

    In fact, the Chief Justice of India last year had asked a government employee if he would marry the woman who had accused him of repeatedly raping her. This can be seen as complete disregard of the pain the woman went through and a way to legalise rape.

    It seems fair to say that if someone can’t think of a “purpose” of marriage beyond getting to rape a woman legally, they really should avoid marriage altogether. Additionally, anyone who thinks women are so terrible that they will inevitably falsely accuse men of sexual assault in order to steal their money really shouldn’t get married either. Not unless they are also arguing that people ought to be allowed to go on killing sprees because people are wrongly accused of murder sometimes. False accusations exist for literally every kind of crime. If they didn’t, we would have no need for legal systems in the first place.

    That marital rape is still legal in India (or anywhere) is horrifying, and it needs to change now. And as much as some men may be upset by it, many women (and men who are not the worst) are damned ready for it. [video is available at the link]

  121. blf says

    Nasa/JPL’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity hasn’t yet flown this Earth year (2022), due to a dust storm which blew in in early January. That could have been an Ingenuity-“killer”, as the batteries need to recharge every day or so to keep the vital heaters going at night. In addition, the storm further lowered the air pressure (due to solar heating of the dust) to below the safe threshold for flight, so the team had to wait until the air cleared and cooled. Whilst an c.18% power drop was seen, Ingenuity survived and seems healthy; next flight may be as soon as this weekend.

    So even Mars flights can be grounded by 5Gweather.

  122. says

    The January 6 Select Committee has been a bunch of busy bees this week!

    On Tuesday it issued subpoenas to Trumpland lawyers Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, and Sidney Powell to discuss their role in the lead-up to the Capitol riot. Although the three were nominally acting as lawyers during the whole sordid affair, their loose lips may go some way to eroding whatever privilege claims they might have made. For instance, the Committee letters to Giuliani and Powell refer to reporting by Axios that they “urged President Trump to direct the seizure of voting machines around the country after being told that the Department of Homeland Security had no lawful authority to do so.” Powell wasn’t the president’s lawyer, and, even if undertaken at the president’s behest, Giuliani’s conversation with acting DHS head Ken Cuccinelli is probably not covered by privilege either.

    The Committee also subpoenaed Trumpland sycophant Boris Epshteyn, who was hanging out at the Willard Hotel with that hive of vipers and is “reported to have participated in a call with former President Trump on the morning of January 6, during which options were discussed to delay the certification of election results in light of Vice President Mike Pence’s unwillingness to deny or delay certification.”

    […] Powell has reportedly agreed to appear. Rudy is off leaking hair dye God only knows where. And our girl Jenna, who blasted her dumbass memos about stealing the Electoral College around DC, says “The committee is just mad they can’t date me.”

    What. Ever.

    On Wednesday, the Committee issued subpoenas to white nationalist shitlords Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey. Fuentes, a notorious Holocaust denier associated with the “Groypers” (those little frog meme weenuses who think they’re totally edgy because they pretend to hate the GOP for being insufficiently racist), was so toxic that associating with him got Michelle Malkin fired by her speakers bureau. But that hasn’t stopped GOP Rep. Paul Gosar, a major proponent of the Big Lie, from palling around with Fuentes.

    Fuentes and Casey hyped the rally, and Fuentes urged his supporters to storm the Capitol, although he himself did not get his hands dirty by going in. In its letters to the Boy Blunders, the Committee referred to reporting that they’d each received large transfers of Bitcoin from a French programmer — $250,000 for Fuentes, and $25,000 for Casey.

    Finally, on Wednesday evening, the Supreme Court tossed Trump’s idiotic attempt to block the National Archives from handing over documents to the Committee. Justice Clarence Thomas, whose wife Ginni Thomas supported the Big Lie, is the only member of the Court who would have granted Trump the injunction. There’s some disagreement about the brief order, which is a nice way of saying really smart people like George Conway and Just Security editor Ryan Goodman think it’s a major smackdown, and I think it’s a gift to Mark Meadows.

    Without getting too deeply into the weeds, Conway and Goodman are treating this as an explicit affirmation of the Circuit Court’s finding that the sitting president’s waiver of privilege outweighs the ex-president’s invocation of it.

    “Supreme Court ruling against Trump on executive privilege,” Goodman tweeted. “Puts #MarkMeadows (and Bannon) in extra legal jeopardy. Their defense against contempt of Congress based in part on executive privilege claim. (They may want to comply now saying were waiting for litigation resolution).”

    Except the denial went out of its way that to emphasize it wasn’t based on privilege at all, but rather the fact that Trump himself had set out a legal standard to invoke privilege, and then failed to meet it.

    “Because the Court of Appeals concluded that President Trump’s claims would have failed even if he were the incumbent, his status as a former President necessarily made no difference to the court’s decision,” they wrote, adding that there was no “’need [to] conclusively resolve whether and to what extent a court,’ at a former President’s behest, may ‘second guess the sitting President’s’ decision to release privileged documents.”

    In fact, they went even further, tossing out all the language from the appellate court’s ruling that relates to privilege: “Any discussion of the Court of Appeals concerning President Trump’s status as a former President must therefore be regarded as nonbinding dicta.”

    That looks to me like they got rid of the parts of the holding that said Biden’s refusal to invoke privilege outweighs Trump’s invocation of it, which would leave Mark Meadows and the rest of the goons defying Committee subpoenas free to argue their executive privilege claims in court. But Conway says the Court was deliberately leaving the question open in case future ex-presidents need to assert privilege after leaving office. […]


  123. says

    From today’s Guardian UK-politics liveblog summary:

    …The big event of the day took place at 10am, when Conservative MP William Wragg accused the government of trying to “blackmail” MPs pushing for a confidence vote in Boris Johnson.
    Number 10 swiftly responded and, without outright refuting Wragg’s claims, said it was “not aware of any evidence” to support them. The stance was repeated soon after by Johnson.

    Lots of politicians piled in with criticisms of the government. Lib Dem leader Ed Davey accused Johnson of acting “like a mafia boss”, Labour called for an investigation into the blackmail claims, which was echoed by the Scottish Tories (which Number 10 said it wouldn’t investigate the claims due to the lack of evidence). Former Brexit minister Steve Baker speculated that “it does look like checkmate” for Johnson, while Treasury chief secretary Simon Clark, said it would be “absolutely wrong” for government whips to threaten to withdraw constituency funding.

    Wragg’s claims were followed by revelations [claims] from Christian Wakefield, the Bury South MP who defected to Labour, that he had been threatened with a loss of funding for his constituency if he rebelled as a Tory MP.

    Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon called for an investigation into bullying and blackmail, which she called “gravely serious allegations”. She also cast her doubts on the decision to lift Plan B restrictions. “There are still significant uncertainties ahead,” she said.

    In another embarrassment for Boris Johnson, it emerged that the study finding bridge or tunnel to Northern Ireland is not feasible cost £900,000 of taxpayer money….

  124. blf says

    A new study calculates the incredible cost of ivermectin stupidity:

    A couple of things are known about ivermectin, the anti-parasitic treatment being promoted by a clutch of conspiracy-mongering mountebanks as a COVID-19 treatment.

    First, it doesn’t work on COVID-19. Second, despite that fact, prescriptions for the drug have rocketed higher — from 3,600 a week prepandemic to 88,000 in one sample week in mid-August, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Third, the publicizing of ivermectin by anti-vaccine and anti-government activists duped naïve people to take a veterinary preparation of the drug, producing a spike in calls to poison control centers.

    Now, thanks to researchers at the University of Michigan and Boston University, we also know the financial toll of the ivermectin craze. In a research letter published Thursday by the Journal of the American Medical Association, they estimated that Medicare and private insurers wasted an estimated $130 million last year on ivermectin prescriptions for COVID-19.

    “That’s not small potatoes,” the lead author of the letter, Kao-Ping Chua of the University of Michigan Medical School, told me. The unit cost of ivermectin pills is low — about $1 to $1.50 per pill — but the volume of wasteful prescriptions adds up.

    The $129.7 million spent on wasteful ivermectin, the letter’s authors calculated, is more than the annual Medicare spending on unnecessary imaging for lower back pain, a low-value diagnostic […]

    [… C]onsider the indirect cost. “By decreasing financial barriers to ivermectin, insurers are essentially facilitating access to a drug that some people use as a substitute for COVID vaccination,” Chua observes. “In that sense, they could be raising their own costs for COVID complications.”

    That’s correct. Ivermectin has become just one more item in the medicine chest promoted by the anti-vaccine crowd. The most serious study found it has “no effect whatsoever” on COVID-19. Ivermectin pushers do argue, as Chua noted, that it’s an alternative to vaccination. That’s not a conclusion based on science.

    As with the entire crusade against COVID-19 vaccination, promoting ivermectin is a reckless attack on public health and a disservice to victims who are duped into making bad choices for their health and safety. It’s true that ivermectin is approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for parasitic diseases. […]

    But that doesn’t mean that pharmacists and insurers are legally bound to fill and pay for those prescriptions.

    But there are no indications that Medicare or private insurers exercised this crucial gatekeeping function on ivermectin. […]

  125. blf says

    American Airlines Flight U-Turns Over Atlantic After Passenger Refused To Wear Face Mask:

    An American Airlines flight from Miami to London on Wednesday [yesterday] night turned around over the Atlantic ocean after a passenger reportedly refused to wear a face mask […]

    Around an hour into its journey to London’s Heathrow Airport, flight AAL38 turned around and returned to Miami International Airport[. …] In a statement, American Airlines said the flight was diverted due to “a disruptive customer refusing to comply with the federal mask requirement”[. …] Local law enforcement met the jet when it landed, the statement said, though it is unclear whether anyone was detained or charged over the incident. […]

    […] The FAA opened 1,081 investigations into unruly passengers last year, up from just 183 in 2020, and started 350 enforcement actions.

    Ten passengers were handed fines of more than $200,000 for unruly behavior by the FAA last year including spitting, screaming and punching a flight attendant. Officials have proposed a total of more than $1.45 million in fines against passengers accused of bad behavior.

  126. says

    Jacobin – “Alabama Amazon Workers Are About to Rerun Their Union Election”:

    It’s a moment of increased bargaining power for the US working class. Workers on the order of millions are quitting their jobs and finding new ones that will pay them better. Those with unions are more willing to fight to begin undoing prior concessions, their confidence bolstered by the realization that employers will have more trouble than usual replacing them should they strike; that these fights do not approach the level of struggle of the 1970s, much less the 1930s, do not make them insignificant. And the momentum is with reformers within unions: see recent efforts to transform the United Auto Workers and the Teamsters, two still mighty organizations even after sustained and systematic decline.

    That is the context in which another union election at an Amazon warehouse is about to be held. On February 4, workers at the Bessemer, Alabama, facility — of greater renown than perhaps any of its hundreds of peers across the country — will receive ballots for a mail-in vote. The vote is a rerun of the effort last year to unionize with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which ended with a majority of ballots cast against unionizing, the result on the order of a two-to-one vote….

    The NLRB ordered the rerun election after finding substance to workers’ allegations that Amazon had violated the “laboratory conditions” required during an election, specifically by creating the impression of surveillance. At issue, as has been much discussed, was the drop box Amazon pushed the United States Postal Service to install outside of the warehouse, the installation of which the NLRB Region Ten director characterized as “flagrant disregard” for the mail-in process.

    Amazon’s move to install the mailbox was a bizarre one: it is immensely difficult to win a union drive at a workplace with as high a turnover rate as an Amazon warehouse, and employers have a wealth of entirely legal means of coercion at their disposal….

    Unlike last time around, when Amazon used every means at its disposal to stall, influence, or otherwise quash the union election, this time, the company failed to pursue at least some routes for stopping the vote, though it can still appeal the order for a new election even after the vote takes place. While one reason for the relative restraint may have to do with company executives believing that it would look bad to dig in its heels after the NLRB found it had violated the law, another simple explanation is that Amazon believes it will win the vote.

    There are good reasons for Amazon executives to feel confident. Winning a NLRB-supervised union election is harder the second time; it goes without saying that it’s not easy the first time, either….

    None of this is to discount the possibility of success for workers who are seeking basic democratic say over the place where they spend much of their waking life. It is simply to put the matter in perspective, a reckoning of the immense odds that all efforts to organize Amazon facilities, of which there are now several, must surmount. Workers in Bessemer have been under a microscope, and not only from the media — Amazon executives expended a lot of energy and resources on the facility, and there are plenty of ways in which that could fuel frustration and, ultimately, a union victory. Indeed, recent deaths at the facility — reportedly two in a twenty-four-hour period [!] — are themselves a powder keg. Never say never.

  127. blf says

    SC@177, One of the commentators, talking about that antivaxxer’s apparent belief Austria and Australia are the same, said:

    My daughter took a teaching job in Poland. She left her car with us. (We live in California.) A friend of my brother’s asked him why she didn’t just drive there. So, I asked my brother if he mentioned that the two places were on two different continents. He replied that it would have confused her. It’s like she has never seen a map or globe.

    Hee hee. Very true. I had a very similar experience some decades ago. I was living in Ireland at the time and had traveled to California for family reasons. There, one of my relatives asked me if Ireland was where ladies carried baskets / pots on their heads. I replied something to the effect, “perhaps in some of the smaller villages you might find some washing being carried that way, but basically, no.” Other relatives found a NatGeo documentary on Ireland to watch.

    But that was nothing.

    Another relative asked something like how long it would take to drive to Ireland. My reply was along the lines of needing an amphibious car. That completely baffled them, so I helpfully (as I now recall) pointed out Ireland is a European island, on the other side of the Atlantic ocean. Cue complete befuddlement — first on my relative’s part, and then on my part when it dawned on me they simply had no idea… Unfortunately, there wasn’t a globe available so I wound up trying to explain basic concepts like the shape of world and continents using mostly hand guestures… probably not successfully. (I don’t think the individual was a literal flat-earther, they were simply clewless, literally “like [they had] never seen a map or globe”, as the commentator put it.)

  128. says

    SC @177, that article contains a good explanation/debunking of the Luciferase conspiracy theory:

    […] Luciferase is from the same Latin root as Lucifer. And what does “lucifer” mean? No, it doesn’t mean Satan, hellspawn. It means “lightbearer.” Lux is light, and ferry is to carry or bear. If you want to know how the Biblical devil took this name, the Wikipedia entry is good. (The name is also commonly translated to “morning star.”)

    Good luck explaining that to this woman.

    Luciferase is named as such because it is a bioluminescent enzyme. It produces light. No, vaccines do not contain luciferase. Luciferase was only used in the development of the vaccine.

    In developing COVID vaccines, researchers used a luciferase in some mouse studies to track where the vaccine mRNA went in the animals. They used the enzyme only for those studies, and it is not part of either of the mRNA vaccines given to people or any of the other COVID vaccines. In other words, getting vaccinated will not cause you to glow like a firefly.

    To be honest, I’m surprised luciferase doesn’t make more frequent appearances in this series, given how easy it is for fundamentalist Evangelicals to see that word and nearly die of the vapors.

    “Four boosters in less than a year.” Nope. Just one. But heck, I’d take a monthly booster if it kept me safe from COVID. Not sure why the idea of boosters is suddenly so offensive to them. […]

    The convoluted and many-layered misapprehensions chronicled in the anti-vaxx chronicles are so bonkers that I can’t even read all of them. Too dispiriting.

  129. says

    It’s probably fair to say Ivanka Trump isn’t having a great week. After all, it was just a couple of days ago when New York Attorney General Letitia James disclosed striking new allegations against the Trump Organization, accusing it in court documents of having committed fraud and engaged in “pervasive” deceptions.

    The accusations stemmed from an ongoing investigation in which the state attorney general’s office is seeking sworn testimony from the former president’s adult daughter.

    Today, as NBC News reported, Ivanka Trump’s week seemed to get a little worse.

    The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol has invited Ivanka Trump to give voluntary testimony. In a letter sent Thursday to former President Donald Trump’s eldest daughter, who served as a top White House adviser, the committee’s chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said it was seeking information about her communications with the White House surrounding the attack.

    […] Just two weeks ago, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, the co-chair of the bipartisan select committee, said the panel has evidence that Ivanka Trump “at least twice” asked her father to help stop this violence during the Jan. 6 attack.

    The committee added today that it also has evidence that she was in “direct contact” with the then-president on Jan. 6, which leads investigators to believe she may have “direct knowledge” of Donald Trump’s efforts, including his campaign to block certification of his 2020 defeat.

    A spokesperson for Ivanka Trump told NBC News that she “did not speak” at the pre-riot rally. That’s true, but it’s also irrelevant: No one has suggested that she appeared at the event.

    The spokesperson added, “As she publicly stated that day at 3:15pm, ‘any security breach or disrespect to our law enforcement is unacceptable. The violence must stop immediately. Please be peaceful.'”

    That’s also true, but it’s also irrelevant to the matter at hand. What’s more, the tweet she published at 3:15 p.m. on Jan. 6 appeared to refer to the rioters as “patriots,” and was soon after deleted.

    At least for now, Ivanka Trump doesn’t appear to have ruled out the possibility of cooperating with the congressional investigation, though she hasn’t accepted the invitation for voluntarily testimony, either. Given her role as a key witness, if she were to formally decline, the prospect of a subpoena would loom large.

    As for the larger context, a New York Times report added, “The summoning of Ms. Trump suggested that the committee was delving deeper into the question of what Mr. Trump was doing and saying as the attack unfolded, as it seeks to determine his intentions and state of mind during the assault. The letter also made clear that the panel has already uncovered substantial evidence about those critical hours inside the White House from key players who were present that day.”


  130. says

    Riding high after his work helping Republicans dismantle democracy, Sen. Joe Manchin has imperiously declared that President Joe Biden is just going to have to start over in getting his support on the critical Build Back Better plan, the package the White House has been negotiating with him for months. As far as he’s concerned, he said, they need to start from scratch. […]

    “The main thing we need to do is take care of the inflation,” Manchin said Thursday morning, because that is a thing that has gotten stuck in his head as something that makes him sound serious. “Get your financial house in order. Get a tax code that works and take care of the pharmaceuticals that are gouging the people with high prices. We can fix that. We can do a lot of good things.” He’s also in no hurry. He wants the White House and Congress to ”get [our] financial house in order. Get this inflation down. Get COVID out of the way. Then we’ll be rolling.”

    As assholish as that is, it’s not a surprise. Manchin’s been moving goalposts and reneging on agreements with the White House and fellow Democrats for months. He succeeded, again with some help from Kyrsten Sinema, in the goal of forcing House Democrats last fall to split BBB from the hard infrastructure bill, the two tracks the majority of Democrats had insisted upon to make sure that the critical provisions for human infrastructure and climate change were also addressed.

    […] Let that be the last time anyone trusts anything either Manchin or Sinema says. So now what?

    In his press conference Wednesday, before Manchin’s start-from-scratch declaration, Biden said breaking up or paring down the bill are both possible. “I think we can break the package up, get as much as we can now, and come back and fight for the rest later,” Biden said. “I’ve been talking to a number of my colleagues on the Hill,” Biden added. “I think it’s clear that we would be able to get support for the 500-plus billion dollars for energy and the environment.”

    The salvageable parts of the bill are going to have to continue to be combined in a budget reconciliation bill because the provisions aren’t going to get 60 votes as discreet stand-alone bills. Budget reconciliation bills require simple majority votes, one of the 160+ carve-outs from the filibuster. The climate change provisions might be a thing that passes.

    […] “I support President Biden in his effort to pass a Build Back Better Act that can get 50 votes,” one of the climate champions, Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, said in a statement after Biden’s remarks. “The climate and clean energy provisions in Build Back Better have been largely worked through and financed, so let’s start there and add any of the other important provisions to support working families that can meet the 50-vote threshold.”

    […] Biden said Wednesday. “For example, Joe Manchin strongly supports early education between three and four years of age, strongly supports it. There is strong support for, I think, a number of the ways in which to pay for this proposal.”

    What’s probably out has been just about the most successful part of Biden’s American Rescue Plan, the big COVID-relief bill signed into law last spring that expanded the Child Tax Credit and sent it out in monthly payments. Those payments ended this month, adding to the desperation millions of families still experience in this pandemic. At one point, the White House thought they had a deal with Manchin on that—he’d drop his insistence on a work requirement if they trimmed the duration of the program from three years to one. He’s reneged on that, too.

    The problem is, everything is absolutely a crisis. Climate is a huge priority for pretty much every Democrat. Even Montana’s Jon Tester, a farmer who gets it because he is a farmer. “And I will tell you that I just came off the worst year ever on my farm,” Tester told E&E Daily. “We need to do something on climate change.” There’s not a single Republican asked by The New York Times who would unequivocally agree to support any of what Biden and the Democrats have been talking about on climate.

    […] it’s possible that there will be two reconciliation bills that have to be negotiated to get this done. That will be after, however, the next round of government funding is settled, preferably in an omnibus appropriations bill but potentially with just another continuing resolution. The deadline for that is Feb. 18.


    Joe Manchin is so fucking pleased with himself.

  131. says

    A bunch of rightwing [doofuses], not having any national Capitol buildings handy, stormed a meeting of the Republican Party of Orange County (California) Monday night instead. The resulting fracas led to police being called to remove the uninvited tourists, who wore orange shirts reading “RINO HUNTER,” with a gunsight cleverly replacing the “O.”

    The Orange County Register reports the band of merry orangeshirts were led by Nick Taurus, a “self-proclaimed American Nationalist,” who last year led a group of like-minded assholes in disrupting an outdoor town hall held by Democratic Rep. Katie Porter in July. […]

    Taurus has switched his target for this fall’s election from Porter to the incumbent Republican congressman for California’s 40th district, Rep Young Kim, who already has the OC Republicans’ endorsement. […]

    Because of the coronavirus, the OCGOP limited attendance for Monday’s meeting to members of its Central Committee, marking maybe the first time this year any organized group of Republicans has actually acknowledged that the Omicron variant of the virus is highly infectious? […]

    In a January 12 announcement, the OCGOP said,

    There are important endorsement requests that must be voted on, but we recognize the spike in covid cases across Orange County. […] It is important that we as a party take care of business, but we must also take care of ourselves and each other.

    You can kind of see how that wouldn’t sit well with a bunch of far-right crazies, who no doubt felt compelled to go and Do Some Liberty at the meeting venue. It appears to have gone every bit as well as Taurus and his droogs intended:

    Photos and videos shared to social media show a couple dozen people wearing orange RINO shirts in the lobby of the building where the meeting was being held. A witness told the Register one member tried to push past people at the door, grabbing at the handle to get inside. Police then are seen directing the protestors outside, while other people are waved by and allowed into the meeting room.

    Once outside, Taurus is seen in videos, wearing a “make America great again” hat, arguing with GOP Latino activist Jesse Suave over amnesty for undocumented immigrants. Taurus supporters and Suave engaged in verbal clashes, with shouts to “back the f— up” and saying “what are you going to do?”

    The Costa Mesa Police were called to respond to the disturbance. Department spokesperson Roxi Fyad said officers told the roughly 20 demonstrators to move their protest from inside the building to the sidewalk outside, and that the protesters complied. […]

    This Taurus fellow seems like quite the peach; in addition to July’s invasion of the Porter event, the OC Register says he

    has been involved in multiple protests that have turned physical in the past, including free speech rallies at Cal State Fullerton and Orange Coast College in 2017. Videos circulating on social media also show him disrupting a 2020 racial justice protest in Yorba Linda. In that video he is seen stealing and ripping up someone’s Black Lives Matter sign. His social media posts tout conspiracy theories about the Clinton family, the “gay mafia” and “anti-White racism.”

    You sort of have to wonder why he wants to be in Congress when his résumé seems more suited to a career in rightwing “journalism.” Or perhaps soccer hooliganism.

    Taurus was pretty proud of his exploits, and posted a tweet that seemed to make clear that the gunsight imagery was not intended to evoke “surveyors’ marks.” [“It’s RINO season, and there is no bag limit!”] […]


  132. says

    NBC News:

    The Supreme Court on Thursday declined once again to order the Texas abortion case back to the original trial judge for further proceedings – a move that would have accelerated the ability of the challengers to try to get some relief. […]


  133. says

    NBC News

    “News never stops” is a phrase often used in the journalism world.

    And it’s a phrase Tori Yorgey, a TV reporter for NBC affiliate WSAZ of Huntington, West Virginia, took to heart when she was suddenly struck by a car during a live shot, fell and bounced right back up to finish her report.

    The incident unfolded Wednesday evening as Yorgey was reporting at the scene of a water main break in Dunbar.

    In the clip, she is facing the camera when a car comes up from behind and strikes her in the back.

    Yorgey lurches forward shocked saying, “Oh my God. I just got hit by a car, but I’m okay!” and her camera topples to the ground.

    “You know that’s live TV for ya!” she says with a laugh. […]

    Yorgey fixes the camera and lights and gracefully rebounds to finish her report on the water break.

    In the clip the driver who hit her is heard apologizing and Yorgey replied, “Ma’am, you’re so sweet […]

    Yorgey said to her co-host in the studio Tim Irr, “That woman was so nice though. She didn’t mean to. It was an accident and I know it was.”

    Seamlessly she transitioned back to her report saying, “Again Tim, we’ll get back to the report. We’re on Roxalana Hills Drive in Dunbar, this is where that water break is.”

    Yorgey, a 25-year-old originally from Pennsylvania, told NBC News Thursday that she’s feeling fine after the incident, except for a little soreness in her back and right leg.

    “I got checked out, no broken bones. They said I’ll be sore for a little.”

    […] “I thought I was going under the wheel,” she recalled. “I thought I was getting run over in that moment. It was really, really scary.”

    Yorgey noted she doesn’t remember falling and getting back up.

    “That’s always my first instinct, just get back up if I can,” she said.

    […] Yorgey said in her job she often is a “one-woman band” who reports on her own in the field, as she was Wednesday evening.

    Even after the fall, Yorgey didn’t miss a beat and returned to reporting. […]

    Video is available at the link

  134. says

    Trump Blasts Biden for Failing to Overthrow U.S. Government in His First Year

    Donald J. Trump has accused Joe Biden of failing to overthrow the United States government during his first year as President.

    In an appearance on Fox News, Trump claimed that Biden “hasn’t even come close” to leading an insurrection against the federal government, despite having had “many, many” opportunities to do so.

    “You look at all the things Joe has at his disposal, and it’s unbelievable, O.K.?” Trump told Tucker Carlson. “He’s got the Justice Department. He’s got the Army. He has all those things, and he doesn’t even manage one little insurrection? Joe Biden is a disgrace.”

    “If he promises to overthrow the government now, I wouldn’t believe him, because I think he’s too low-energy to do it, quite frankly,” he said. “I knew Sleepy Joe was sleepy, but he’s even sleepier than I thought. I call him Comatose Joe.”

    New Yorker link

  135. says

    GOP has its eye on keeping poor people imprisoned while allowing the rich get-out-of-jail-free cards

    Republican state legislators in Kentucky are trying to push through the legislature a bill that would make crowdfunding bail and nonprofit donations to pay bail illegal. Lawmakers stated in House Bill 313, which was introduced on Tuesday:

    “It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in the business of bail bondsman to operate a charitable bail organization, or to otherwise for compensation or other consideration:

    (a) Furnish bail or funds or property to serve as bail; or

    (b) Make bonds or enter into undertakings as surety(…)”

    Rep. John Blanton and Rep. Jason Nemes sponsored the bill, also dubbed Madelynn’s Bill, to honor a 17-year-old girl who was hit and killed in a head-on collision, WAVE reported. The driver, Michael Jacob Dewitt, had previously bonded out of jail after securing a $5,000 donation from the nonprofit organization, The Bail Project. Bail Project Midwest regional director Matthew McFarland indicated in an interview with ABC-affiliated WHAS that the organization would have acted differently if it had the chance.

    “Obviously hindsight is 20/20,” he said. “We don’t have the luxury of seeing into the future, and of course, if we did, things would be different.” […]

    David Gaspar, national director of operations at The Bail Project, wrote in an Indianapolis Star editorial that the nonprofit is an “easy scapegoat.” “It is easier to blame a charity than grapple with the tragedy of our society’s systemic failings, particularly when it comes to lifting under-resourced Black communities out of poverty and desperation,” Gaspar wrote. “Take the case of Deonta Williams, a young Black man helped by The Bail Project who was recently accused of assaulting two police officers. Williams, who had been living in a homeless shelter, received a large medical bill he could not pay, and this seems to have sent him over the edge. According to news reports, he wanted to commit ‘suicide by cop.’”

    Gaspar continued:

    “This is such a profoundly tragic situation, not only for the police officers who were called as Williams was having a mental breakdown and risked their lives, but for this 20-year-old who, at an age when other young people are in college planning their future, is already homeless, burdened with medical debt, sinking into a mental health crisis, and now facing prison for the rest of his life.”

    Alex Flood, a leader of the organization Louisville Showing Up for Racial Justice told WAVE the concept of the organization is “as radically simple as it sounds.” “We believe that people are innocent until proven guilty, and when folks are stuck in jail because they are too poor, they’re being punished for crimes they’ve not been convicted of,” Flood said. “And so we’re just asking judges to cut that out.”

    Texas Republicans passed legislation last year to ensure judges could not, in fact, cut it out. Although GOP efforts to outright ban charitable groups from posting bail were hampered, Republicans were able to weasel into law language requiring organizations to be official nonprofits and file reports on those they bail out, The Texas Tribune reported.

    “Currently, most Texas jail releases are determined by the defendant’s ability to post cash, but some jurisdictions—particularly Harris County after losses in federal court—have recently shifted to releasing more people accused of low-level crimes on personal bonds, which don’t require cash but can include restrictions like GPS ankle monitoring or routine drug testing,” Texas Tribune writer Jolie McCullough wrote last September. “SB 6 will ban the release of people accused of violent crimes on personal bonds, requiring instead that they be able to post the amount of cash set by the court, or pay a percentage to a bail bonds company.”

    Nick Hudson, policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas, said in a news release that the bill is a “giveaway to the bail industry masquerading as a public safety proposal.”

    “This bill will not make Texas meaningfully safer,” Hudson said. “SB 6 will make it harder for poor Texans to get out of jail while continuing to allow wealthy Texans to buy their freedom—regardless of how dangerous they are.”

    Apparently, the lesson Kentucky Republicans took away from their Texas peers was to further fracture an already broken criminal justice system.

  136. says

    Anna Merlan at Vice – “Joe Rogan’s Friends Assemble in D.C. to Do Something They Say Isn’t an Anti-Vax Rally”:

    “IF YOU MISS THIS EVENT,” Del Bigtree wrote recently on Twitter, “it will be like telling your grandkids YOU MISSED WOODSTOCK.”

    Bigtree is a former TV producer turned big wheel in the anti-vaccination movement, and he’s nothing if not skilled at creating hype. Most recently, he’s been intent on turning out the troops for what he and others are promising will be an extraordinary march on Washington, an event loudly promoted on Joe Rogan’s podcast and involving several well-known anti-vaccine activists he’s had on as guests. (Bigtree himself has not been a guest, despite his program’s Twitter account begging Rogan to feature him.) “On Jan 23rd I am joining a historic lineup of Health Freedom Warriors including RFK Jr and Dr Robert Malone,” Bigtree added in his tweet. “I’LL SEE YOU THERE. #BeBrave.”

    Since nearly the start of the pandemic, anti-mask, anti-vaccine events have been thick on the ground. There have been rallies, marches and conferences, whose speakers tend to be the same small group, over and over again: Bigtree and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. most often featured among them. And the so-called Defeat the Mandates march is, to be sure, more or less the same group of people; among them are Bigtree, Kennedy, Dr. Pierre Kory (best known for his advocacy of ivermectin, a discredited COVID treatment), and anti-vaccine comedian JP Sears, who said in an email newsletter that he’s sponsoring the march. (It bears noting here, of course, that scarcely a week ago, the Supreme Court struck down the Biden administration’s proposed broad vaccine mandate, which would seem to render the point of the march more or less moot. Then again, there are always state-level regulations and individual workplace mandates to protest and mall food courts to storm.) Kennedy’s anti-vaccine organization, Children’s Health Defense, claimed in January that Rogan would also attend the rally; three days later, it issued a correction, writing, “Mr. Rogan is not on the scheduled list of speakers.”

    This time around, the usual faces are teaming up with a few new allies and attempting a slightly shifted set of talking points. The Defeat the Mandates march is claiming not to be an anti-vaccine march at all, but instead a unified group of people, “vaccinated and unvaccinated,” coming together to Reclaim America from unjust vaccine mandates….

    This particular rally became big news after Dr. Robert Malone announced its existence during an appearance on Joe Rogan’s show. Malone is the latest darling of the anti-vaccine movement…

    Other speakers include Bret Weinstein, the podcaster and Intellectual Dark Web figure who’s recently made ivermectin advocacy a major cornerstone of his public platform, even downing the drug on air with his wife and co-host Heather Heying looking on….

    Also on the docket are a notably higher number of Black anti-vaccine activists than are usually featured at these events, which tend to be overwhelmingly white….

    In the end, the march feels incredibly similar to many other events that have gone before it, with the light sheen of a more “unifying” message and a vague appeal to patriotism. The only slightly jarring note is the organizers’ repeated intimations that someone will use the rally to do harm or commit violence, but that it’s unsanctioned by them….

    By using lighter, less extreme messaging, however, the march is also giving vaccine-hesitant people on the fringes of the movement an entry point, a way in, placing them at the top of the slide before giving them a hard push down….

    The reference to Woodstock isn’t incidental – there’s a calculated, ersatz ’60s vibe to the whole thing. They’re selling merch (of course), and the sweatshirt logo is supposed to remind people of Woodstock (it’s also a black hoodie which suggests they’re going for a countercultural fa look).

  137. says

    Guardian – “‘They cut him into pieces’: India’s ‘love jihad’ conspiracy theory turns lethal”:

    …In India, interfaith marriages have always carried a social stigma and faced resistance by all faiths as they often require religious conversion.

    But, in recent years, since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) came to power, such unions – particularly between Hindu women and Muslim men – have become a dangerous political flashpoint due to a discredited but pervasive conspiracy known as “love jihad”.

    Those who believe in the theory claim that Muslim men are luring Hindu women into marriage on false pretences, in order to convert them to Islam and ensure Muslim dominance over the Hindus in India.

    According to India’s national investigation agency, there is no evidence for “love jihad”, nor is it reflected in India’s population data, where Hindus continue to make up about 80% and Muslims 14%.

    But what was once a fringe extremist theory has now been brought into the political mainstream and, last year, numerous BJP-ruled states, including Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, passed legislation to clamp down on conversion for interfaith marriages – laws colloquially known as the “love jihad” laws.

    While the legislation covers all religions, over the past year it has predominately been used to target minorities as well as emboldening rightwing Hindu vigilante groups to halt interfaith marriage.

    In Uttar Pradesh, Muslim men who have attempted to marry consenting Hindu women have been violently attacked, forced into hiding or sent to jail. Of the 208 people arrested under the new anti-conversion law between November 2020 and August 2021, all were Muslim. None have been convicted so far….

    More at the link.

  138. says

    There are currently 212 members of the House Republican conference, and this week, each received a gift from Donald Trump’s Save America operation. It was not, however, a gesture of generosity from the former president.

    As Politico reported, the gift was a copy of Mollie Hemingway’s conspiratorial book “RIGGED: How the Media, Big Tech and the Democrats Seized Our Election,” which was accompanied by a signed note from the former president. It read in part:

    “There is no question, American Democracy was under siege during the 2020 Presidential election. Facts are coming out weekly — and election fraud, media bias, and voting irregularities continue to be unearthed. Republican leadership should never have certified the election on January 6th, and now Democrats will never stop their assault on America — our freedom, faith, family, and values.”

    Trump concluded, “I hope you find this book informative and encouraging in your battle for the heart of our Nation.”

    Let’s briefly take stock of what makes this notable.

    First, Mollie Hemingway’s book is apparently 448 pages long. If you believe the former president actually read this tome, I have stock in a dubious media company I’d love to sell you.

    Second, Trump’s commitment to his election delusion is, if anything, intensifying. His signed note to GOP lawmakers referenced “facts” that simply don’t exist outside of his imagination.

    But stepping back, the larger significance is the far-from-subtle point of this little present: Trump isn’t just lying, he’s also lobbying.

    The deliveries to House Republicans was the former president’s latest effort to not only flaunt his weird beliefs and strained relationship with reality, but also to encourage his GOP brethren to toe the line. His lies should be their lies. His conspiracy theories should be their conspiracy theories. His fights should be their fights. His campaign against democracy should be their campaign against democracy.

    In theory, Trump’s political operation could’ve simply sent the book, letting its title and thesis speak for itself. But he included a conspiratorial note to remove any potential ambiguities.

    As Republicans on Capitol Hill focus their energies on Election Day 2022, the former president is effectively telling them to instead look backward — at an attack on democracy that only Trump can see, “facts” that only he’s aware of, and an “assault” that only he perceives.

    Politico quoted a House GOP staffer saying the delivery of the gift “just shows how Trump is continuing to pressure members/Republicans to embrace the Big Lie.”

    Ya think?


    This “gift,” which I am sure Trump did not pay for with his own money, is also a sign that he feels fealty to the Big Lie slipping among Republican legislators.

  139. says

    Giuliani accused of helping orchestrate forged documents scheme

    We knew Republicans in multiple states created forged election materials. We didn’t know who coordinated the scheme. Now we do.

    We’ve known for weeks that Republicans in multiple states created forged election materials, pretending to be “duly elected and qualified electors,” and sent the documents to, among others, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Archivist, as if the materials were legitimate. They were not.

    We’ve also come to learn that these Republicans were not acting independently. The fake documents had identical formatting, spacing, fonts, and phrasing, leaving little doubt that there was a template for Republicans to follow in each of these states.

    What’s remained unclear is who, exactly, coordinated the scheme. Yesterday, the details came into focus. CNN reported that it was Trump campaign officials, “led by Rudy Giuliani,” who oversaw the efforts. […]

    Giuliani and his allies coordinated the nuts-and-bolts of the process on a state-by-state level, the sources told CNN. One source said there were multiple planning calls between Trump campaign officials and GOP state operatives, and that Giuliani participated in at least one call. The source also said the Trump campaign lined up supporters to fill elector slots, secured meeting rooms in statehouses for the fake electors to meet on December 14, 2020, and circulated drafts of fake certificates that were ultimately sent to the National Archives.

    […] The Washington Post had a related report, which included some key new details.

    Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, told The Post that Giuliani and his associates forwarded letters … arguing the Trump electors should be recognized [instead of the legitimate electors]. Short and Pence’s legal team reviewed the unsolicited letters but were not persuaded there was any legal basis to accept Trump electors who had not been certified by their states, Short said.

    […] Republicans not only forged election materials, and tried to pass them off to government agencies as if they were real, they also had Giuliani lobbying the then-vice president’s office to accept fake electors as real electors.

    It’s worth emphasizing that both of these new reports indicate that while Giuliani was directly involved in executing the scheme, he partnered with “his associates” and “Trump campaign officials.” There’s ample evidence to bolster this point.

    Indeed, there’s literally a recording of a Trump campaign official calling a state legislator in Michigan, seeking cooperation with the Republicans’ anti-election plot.

    […] The Post’s report noted, “Understanding the origins of the rival slates has now become a focus of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection,” and CNN’s report added that the panel’s chairman, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson told reporters yesterday the committee “is looking into whether there was a broader conspiracy or involvement from the Trump White House in the creation or submission of these fake electors.”

    […] In Nevada, Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak told a local CBS affiliate, “If they sent fraudulent or fake [electoral votes], absolutely a crime was committed and that’s up to the attorney general to decide what he’s going to do in terms of filing charges or prosecuting. Our democracy is at stake. You can’t have people filing false reports and fake certifications.” To that end, Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford issued a statement this week that read in part, “[R]est assured that this matter is on our radar.”

    In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee County district attorney examined the issue and referred it to state law enforcement for additional scrutiny.

    And in Michigan and New Mexico, state attorneys general have referred the controversy to federal prosecutors.

    Video of the Rachel Maddow Show segment addressing this issue is also available at the link.

  140. lumipuna says

    Re blf at 171:

    So even Mars flights can be grounded by weather.

    Where there’s enough atmosphere to allow flights, there’s enough weather to ground flights.

    Re blf at 179:

    Another relative asked something like how long it would take to drive to Ireland. My reply was along the lines of needing an amphibious car. That completely baffled them, so I helpfully (as I now recall) pointed out Ireland is a European island, on the other side of the Atlantic ocean. Cue complete befuddlement — first on my relative’s part, and then on my part when it dawned on me they simply had no idea… Unfortunately, there wasn’t a globe available so I wound up trying to explain basic concepts like the shape of world and continents using mostly hand guestures… probably not successfully. (I don’t think the individual was a literal flat-earther, they were simply clewless, literally “like [they had] never seen a map or globe”, as the commentator put it.)

    I pledge allegiance
    To the map of the United Plates of Pangaea
    One landmass, indivisible, under scorching sun
    Aridity and land-based traffic for all

    (I thought this up years ago upon reading a Pharyngula post on the “Make Pangaea Great Again” joke, but didn’t have a commenting account back then)

  141. says

    Hmmm. This company does a lot of business in Idaho.

    So another US Company does the right thing, shows it cares about its employees and public health, and right-wing yahoos are up in arms against it.

    If you’re not familiar with Carhartt products, let me just say that they are a clothing line whose products are simply made to last forever.

    From the Guardian:

    Carhartt, the Michigan-based workwear company, is facing a wave of conservative backlash after its CEO announced that it will keep its vaccination mandate, despite a recent supreme court decision to block a federal mandate that would require businesses with over 100 employees to get vaccinated or take weekly Covid-19 tests.

    In an email sent to employees last Friday, Mark Valade said that Covid-19 vaccinations remain mandatory. “We put workplace safety at the very top of our priority list and the supreme court’s recent ruling doesn’t impact that core value,” Valade wrote.

    “We, and the medical community, continue to believe vaccines are necessary to ensure a safe working environment for every associate and even perhaps their households. While we appreciate that there may be differing views, workplace safety is an area where we and the union that represents our associates cannot compromise,” Valade added.

    Naturally, [assorted doofuses] are up in arms.

    CBS News reports that:

    The memo has sparked both support and calls for a boycott, with the division coming down to whether consumers support vaccination requirements or see them as an intrusion on personal freedom. The unvaccinated are among the minority of Americans, given that 63% of the nation is fully vaccinated. But those who are unvaccinated tend to be higher in Republican-leaning areas, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

    One Twitter user called Carhartt’s vaccination stance “insane given their target market” and professed they were “done purchasing any of their stuff.” Another wrote that she was “impressed and I will be purchasing from a company that cares about protecting all its workers.”

    Naturally right wing agitators like Sebastian Gorka and at least one Republican member of the House are jumping on the boycott bandwagon: […]

    Carhartt also shared a statement with PR Daily via email further reinforcing its stance on the COVID-19 vaccine and echoing much of the language from Valade’s original email:

    Carhartt made the decision to implement its own vaccine mandate as part of our long-standing commitment to workplace safety. Our recent communication to employees was to reinforce that the Supreme Court ruling does not affect the mandate we put in place.

    Carhartt fully understands and respects the varying opinions on this topic, and we are aware some of our associates do not support this policy. However, we stand behind our decision because we believe vaccines are necessary to protect our workforce.



    You will have no doubt seen various Hollywood stars wearing Carhartt barn coats as part of their costume for movies set in the American West.

  142. says

    Yes, it could have been worse.

    Among the records that Donald Trump’s lawyers tried to shield from Jan. 6 investigators are a draft executive order that would have directed the defense secretary to seize voting machines and a document titled “Remarks on National Healing.”

    POLITICO has reviewed both documents. The text of the draft executive order is published here for the first time.

    The executive order — which also would have appointed a special counsel to probe the 2020 election — was never issued, and the remarks were never delivered. Together, the two documents point to the wildly divergent perspectives of White House advisers and allies during Trump’s frenetic final weeks in office.

    It’s not clear who wrote either document. But the draft executive order is dated Dec. 16, 2020, and is consistent with proposals that lawyer Sidney Powell made to the then-president. On Dec. 18, 2020, Powell, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump administration lawyer Emily Newman, and former CEO Patrick Byrne met with Trump in the Oval Office.

    In that meeting, Powell urged Trump to seize voting machines and to appointher as a special counsel to investigate the election, according to Axios.

    A spokesperson for the House’s Jan. 6 select committee confirmed earlier Friday that the panel had received the last of the documents that Trump’s lawyers tried to keep under wraps […]

    The draft executive order
    The draft executive order shows that the weeks between Election Day and the Capitol attack could have been even more chaotic than they were. It credulously cites conspiracy theories about election fraud in Georgia and Michigan, as well as debunked notions about Dominion voting machines.

    The order empowers the defense secretary to “seize, collect, retain and analyze all machines, equipment, electronically stored information, and material records required for retention under” a U.S. law that relates to preservation of election records. It also cites a lawsuit filed in 2017 against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

    Additionally, the draft order would have given the defense secretary 60 days to write an assessment of the 2020 election. That suggests it could have been a gambit to keep Trump in power until at least mid-February of 2021. […]


    The full text of the never-issued executive order is available at the link.

    […] The draft order also greenlit “the appointment of a Special Counsel to oversee this operation and institute all criminal and civil proceedings as appropriate based on the evidence collected and provided all resources necessary to carry out her duties consistent with federal laws and the Constitution.”

    To bolster its provisions, the draft order cites “the forensic report of the Antrim County, Michigan voting machines.” That report was produced by Russ Ramsland, who confused precincts in Minnesota for those in Michigan, according to the Washington Post. Michigan’s secretary of state, meanwhile, released an exhaustive report rebutting election conspiracy theories and concluding that none of the “known anomalies” in Antrim County’s November 2020 election were the result of any security breach.

    The draft remarks
    The document labeled “Remarks on National Healing,” also now in the select panel’s possession, illustrates its own alternative path never taken in the aftermath of the attack. Its tone stands in jarring contrast to the rhetoric Trump employed at the time and continues to use when discussing the insurrection.

    “I would like to begin today by addressing the heinous attack that took place yesterday at the United States Capitol,” it opens. “Like all Americans, I was outraged and sickened by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem. I immediately deployed the National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure the building and expel the intruders. America is, and must always be, a nation of law and order.”

    That claim that Trump immediately ordered the National Guard to head to the Capitol may be false. The Jan. 6 select committee sent a letter Thursday saying that Trump’s defense secretary at the time of the riot, Chris Miller, “has testified under oath that the President never contacted him at any time on January 6th, and never, at any time, issued him any order to deploy the National Guard.”

    The draft “national healing” document continued with sharp criticism of the attack.

    “The Demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American Democracy,” the remarks state. “I am directing the Department of Justice to ensure all lawbreakers are prosecuted to the fullest extent” of the law.”

    The document follows with a direct communication to the rioters: “We must send a message – not with mercy but with justice. To those who engaged in acts of violence and destruction, I want to be very clear: you do not represent me. You do not represent our movement. You do not represent our country. And if you broke the law, you belong in jail.”

    Such a full-throated condemnation, if Trump had delivered it, would have departed significantly from the way he described the rioters in the wake of the siege. In a video released during the attack, Trump struck a tone of empathy with the mob.

    “We have to have peace,” Trump said then. “So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens, you see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel.”

    The draft remarks go on to describe emotions running high after an intense election. “But now, tempers must be cooled and calm restored.”

    Trump “vigorously pursued every legal avenue to contest the election results,” the remarks add, and still urges election “reform” so voters could be confident about future contests.

    “But as for THIS election, Congress has now certified the results,” the remarks say. “The election fight is over. A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20th. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”

    In reality, Trump’s recent characterization of the attack has veered wildly from that sentiment in the draft remarks. The former president has described the 2020 election as “the insurrection” and Jan. 6, 2021, as “the Protest.” He has also praised Ashli Babbitt, a rioter who entered the Capitol and was shot and killed there by a police officer.

    The draft remarks go on to strike a unifying tone in discussing the coronavirus that also differs from Trump’s approach at the time.

    “The pandemic isolated millions in their homes, damaged the economy, and claimed countless victims,” the document continues. “Ending the pandemic and rebuilding the economy,” it adds, “will require all of us working together,” along with renewed emphasis on patriotism, faith and community.

    “We must renew the sacred bonds of love and loyalty that bind us together as one national family,” it adds. […]

  143. says

    Confused Grandpa Trump Just Gonna Endorse Every GOP Candidate Who Gives Him A Diet Coke And A Sponge Bath

    Politico Playbook gets its giggle on this Friday morning with a fun story about an indecisive Florida man who orders one of everything off the breakfast menu at Denny’s. Well, more or less.

    See, Donald Trump can’t figure out which candidates to endorse, since his only metric is how enthusiastically a politician kisses his ass. But he fancies himself a kingmaker, so he has to anoint someone with the sacred self-tanner. And it’s not like he’s going to, like, read policy papers to figure out whose political vision matches his. Come on, this is a guy whose daily briefing had to be reduced to a comic book that cast him as the hero.

    So Trump has to rely on his advisers to tell him which candidate he “likes.”

    The problem is his advisers are a pack of grifters trying to monetize their relationship with him, so he doesn’t know what to think. Errrrr, “think.”

    Take the Missouri senate race where “PAM BONDI, who heads Trump’s super PAC, has advocated for her longtime friend, state A.G. ERIC SCHMITT. But KELLYANNE CONWAY is advising Rep. BILLY LONG’s campaign, and KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE serves as national chair of former Gov. ERIC GREITENS’ campaign.”

    “He’s at times suspicious of the recommendations that people give him when he knows they’re being paid,” one Trumplander told Politico. “He’s been asking who is paying who.”

    Oh, he worked that out, did he? Gold star, Poppy!

    Or if they’re not getting “paid,” it’s because they’re the customers. Like Peter Thiel, the billionaire seeking to buy Senate seats in Ohio and Arizona, the better to ratfuck America’s tax laws for his own benefit. He’s trying to make J.D. Vance happen in Ohio, where Kellyanne is shilling for Bernie Moreno. In Arizona Thiel’s avatar Blake Masters, who somehow manages to make J.D. Vance look charismatic, is facing off against Jim Lamon, who is backed by Trump troll Ric Grenell.

    […] it’s not like Trump’s instincts are that great when he goes it alone. He saddled Georgia with Herschel Walker to take on Sen. Raphael Warnock, and his chosen favorite in the Arizona gubernatorial race, Kari Lake, is a wacko who gets photographed with Nazis. Meanwhile, Rep. Mo Brooks isn’t exactly setting the world on fire in the Alabama Senate race, which, yeah, no shit, this is a guy who ran in 2018 against a man accused of molesting several teenage girls and came in third place. Trump has apparently considered un-endorsing Brooks for the unpardonable sin of saying 2024 matters more than nursing grievances from 2020.

    Left unsaid is that in normal times the state party, which is presumably in the best position to determine who will appeal to its own voters, would have a major say in choosing the candidate. But apparently Ohio shitposter Josh Mandel was too busy burning his mask to hire the “right” consultant. And Arizona AG Mark Brnovich, who has already proven he can win statewide, is on Trump’s enemies list because he failed to overturn the election in 2020. Trump actually talked someone into mounting a primary challenge against popular Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey because she hurt his feelings once, and it didn’t even rate a mention in this article because there is so much crazy.

    Plus there’s the annoying problem that Trump’s advisers are often wrong. Don Jr. already convinced his old man to endorse Sean Parnell in the Pennsylvania Senate race, only to see that candidacy implode in a hail of domestic violence allegations. Should he take Hannity’s advice and go with Dr. Oz? Or should he give the nod to his former advisor Dina Powell’s choice, who happens to be her gazillionaire husband David McCormick?

    And he can’t not endorse, because that would “cede power to his nemesis, MITCH MCCONNELL.” Politico reports this as if it is totally normal that a national party’s fate hangs on an aging egomaniac’s petty grievances against the nominal party leader.

    […] The GOP kingmaker-in-chief has grown so distrustful of all the advice he’s getting from various aides — and so wary of being lured into picking the wrong horse — that he’s floated an idea that would essentially dilute his endorsement.

    “He feels like he’s being penned in,” said a person close to the former president, explaining that Trump’s logic is that dual endorsements would mean, “I get two chances to win.”

    […] Another person close to the former president said he does not expect that Trump will ultimately endorse two candidates in the same race. More likely is that he will shower praise on multiple candidates or offer them some other form of acknowledgement, such as granting each a visit to Mar-a-Lago to pose for a picture with him.
    He will do many photo ops, until one of his suitors manages to perform an act of sycophancy so debasing that the other hopefuls are left agape. And then that candidate will get the rose.

    Don’t let anyone tell you the midterms are a done deal. These assholes could screw up a three-car funeral procession.

  144. says

    Good news.

    […] one of those positive changes is that those who work for the United States of America can now count on making at least $15 an hour.

    The change is the result of an executive order President Joe Biden issued his first week in office, directing the Office of Personnel Management to draft a report detailing the necessary steps and guidance to get all employees of the United States of America to $15 an hour. The report found that while the vast majority of the 2.2 million people who work for the federal government were already making over $15 an hour, about 70,000 workers, mostly in the Department of Defense, were not. Those workers will see their pay increase to $15 at the end of the month.

    Axios reports that the new guidance will impact “around 130 wildland firefighters, 400 plant protection technicians, 3,800 custodial workers and 50,000 DOD employees at military bases around the country,” according to the OPM. Unfortunately for postal workers, this guidance does not impact U.S. Postal Service and Postal Regulatory Commission, as the OPM does not have legal authority over those entities.

    This change isn’t just being made out of the goodness of the federal government’s heart. OPM explains in the guidance that paying less than $15 an hour will make it hard for the government to retain and recruit a qualified workforce.

    OPM has reasonably determined that, for Federal employees stationed in the United States (including its territories and possessions), FWS rates of basic pay less than $15 per hour are creating or are likely to create significant recruitment and/or retention problems, supporting the creation of a special wage rate schedules for FWS employees stationed in the United States (including its territories and possessions). Accordingly, DOD will establish, with OPM’s approval, a $15 per hour minimum pay rate for appropriated fund and nonappropriated fund FWS wage schedules for employees stationed in the United States (including its territories and possessions) where any pay rate would otherwise be below $15 per hour on January 30, 2022.

    This is obviously a move in the right direction, as the US should not be in the business of paying its employees less than it costs to survive in this country, and should be setting an example for all employers. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2007, and we are currently at the longest stretch of time the US has ever gone without raising it. As a result, the minimum wage of $7.25 is now worth two dollars less than it was when it was implemented. […]


  145. says

    Politico – “Read the never-issued Trump order that would have seized voting machines”:

    Among the records that Donald Trump’s lawyers tried to shield from Jan. 6 investigators are a draft executive order that would have directed the defense secretary to seize voting machines and a document titled “Remarks on National Healing.”

    POLITICO has reviewed both documents. The text of the draft executive order is published here for the first time.

    The executive order — which also would have appointed a special counsel to probe the 2020 election — was never issued, and the remarks were never delivered. Together, the two documents point to the wildly divergent perspectives of White House advisers and allies during Trump’s frenetic final weeks in office.

    It’s not clear who wrote either document. But the draft executive order is dated Dec. 16, 2020, and is consistent with proposals that lawyer Sidney Powell made to the then-president. On Dec. 18, 2020, Powell, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump administration lawyer Emily Newman, and former CEO Patrick Byrne met with Trump in the Oval Office.

    In that meeting, Powell urged Trump to seize voting machines and to appoint her as a special counsel to investigate the election, according to Axios.

    A spokesperson for the House’s Jan. 6 select committee confirmed earlier Friday that the panel had received the last of the documents that Trump’s lawyers tried to keep under wraps and later declined to comment for this story on these two documents….

    More at the link.

  146. says

    Is Ginni Thomas a Threat to the Supreme Court?

    New Yorker link

    Behind closed doors, Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife is working with many groups directly involved in controversial cases before the Court.

    Excerpts from a much longer article, (It well worth one’s time to read the entire article, in my opinion):

    In December, Chief Justice John Roberts released his year-end report on the federal judiciary. According to a recent Gallup poll, the Supreme Court has its lowest public-approval rating in history—in part because it is viewed as being overly politicized. […] followed a series of defensive speeches from members of the Court’s conservative wing, which now holds a super-majority of 6–3. Last fall, Justice Clarence Thomas, in an address at Notre Dame, accused the media of spreading the false notion that the Justices are merely politicians in robes. Such criticism, he said, “makes it sound as though you are just always going right to your personal preference,” adding, “They think you become like a politician!”

    The claim that the Justices’ opinions are politically neutral is becoming increasingly hard to accept, especially from Thomas, whose wife, Virginia (Ginni) Thomas, is a vocal right-wing activist. She has declared that America is in existential danger because of the “deep state” and the “fascist left,” which includes “transsexual fascists.” Thomas, a lawyer who runs a small political-lobbying firm, Liberty Consulting, has become a prominent member of various hard-line groups. Her political activism has caused controversy for years. For the most part, it has been dismissed as the harmless action of an independent spouse. But now the Court appears likely to secure victories for her allies in a number of highly polarizing cases—on abortion, affirmative action, and gun rights.

    Many Americans first became aware of Ginni Thomas’s activism on January 6, 2021. That morning, before the Stop the Steal rally in Washington, D.C., turned into an assault on the Capitol resulting in the deaths of at least five people, she cheered on the supporters of President Donald Trump who had gathered to overturn Biden’s election. […]

    Later that January, the Washington Post revealed that she had also been agitating about Trump’s loss on a private Listserv, Thomas Clerk World, which includes former law clerks of Justice Thomas’s. The online discussion had been contentious. John Eastman, a former Thomas clerk and a key instigator of the lie that Trump actually won in 2020, was on the same side as Ginni Thomas, and he drew rebukes. […] Justice Thomas doesn’t post on the Listserv, but his wife “is advocating for things directly.” […] “It’s unprecedented. I have never seen a Justice’s wife as involved.”

    […] She has been one of the directors of C.N.P. Action, a dark-money wing of the conservative pressure group the Council for National Policy. C.N.P. Action, behind closed doors, connects wealthy donors with some of the most radical right-wing figures in America. Ginni Thomas has also been on the advisory board of Turning Point USA, a pro-Trump student group, whose founder, Charlie Kirk, boasted of sending busloads of protesters to Washington on January 6th.

    Stephen Gillers, a law professor at N.Y.U. and a prominent judicial ethicist, told me, “I think Ginni Thomas is behaving horribly, and she’s hurt the Supreme Court and the administration of justice. It’s reprehensible. […]

    The Constitution offers only one remedy for misconduct on the Supreme Court: impeachment. This was attempted once, in 1804, but it resulted in an acquittal, underscoring the independence of the judicial branch. […]

    In recent years, Democrats have been trying to impose stronger ethics standards on the Justices—a response, in part, to what Justice Sonia Sotomayor has described as the “stench” of partisanship on the Court. In 2016, Republicans in Congress, in an unprecedented act, refused to let President Barack Obama fill a vacancy on the Court. Trump subsequently pushed through the appointment of three hard-line conservative Justices. Last summer, Democrats in Congress introduced a bill that would require the Judicial Conference of the United States to create a binding code of conduct for members of the Supreme Court. They also proposed legislation that would require more disclosures about the financial backers behind amicus briefs. […]

    All judges, even those on the Court, are required to recuse themselves from any case in which their spouse is “a party to the proceeding” or is “an officer, director, or trustee” of an organization that is a party to a case. Ginni Thomas has not been a named party in any case on the Court’s docket; nor is she litigating in any such case. But she has held leadership positions at conservative pressure groups that have either been involved in cases before the Court or have had members engaged in such cases. In 2019, she announced a political project called Crowdsourcers, and said that one of her four partners would be the founder of Project Veritas, James O’Keefe. […] Thomas also currently serves on the advisory board of the National Association of Scholars, a group promoting conservative values in academia, which has filed an amicus brief before the Court in a potentially groundbreaking affirmative-action lawsuit against Harvard. And, though nobody knew it at the time, Ginni Thomas was an undisclosed paid consultant at the conservative pressure group the Center for Security Policy, when its founder, Frank Gaffney, submitted an amicus brief to the Court supporting Trump’s Muslim travel ban.

    Bruce Green, a professor at Fordham specializing in legal ethics, notes, “In the twenty-first century, there’s a feeling that spouses are not joined at the hip.” He concedes, though, that “the appearance” created by Ginni Thomas’s political pursuits “is awful—they look like a mom-and-pop political-hack group, where she does the political stuff and he does the judging.” […]

    Last month, she went on Fox News and said that “a couple of the liberal Justices”—she singled out Justice Sotomayor by name—had been “idiotic” during oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Mississippi abortion case now under consideration by the Supreme Court. […]

    Soon after Ginni Thomas gave Mark Meadows an Impact Award, he became Trump’s chief of staff. This past December, he refused to comply with a subpoena from the House select committee that is investigating the Capitol attack. Cleta Mitchell, who advised Trump on how to contest Biden’s electoral victory, received an Impact Award in 2018. She has moved to block a committee subpoena of her phone records. The House of Representatives recently voted to send the Justice Department a referral recommending that it charge Meadows with criminal contempt of Congress. The same thing may well happen to Mitchell. It seems increasingly likely that some of Ginni Thomas’s Impact Award recipients will end up as parties before the Supreme Court.

    […] On December 15th, she and sixty-two other prominent conservatives signed an open letter to Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader, demanding that the House Republican Conference excommunicate Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for their “egregious” willingness to serve on the committee.

    […] A current member of the Conservative Action Project told me that Ginni Thomas is part of the group not because of her qualifications but “because she’s married to Clarence.”

    […] Ginni Thomas has her own links to the January 6th insurrection. Her Web site, which touts her consulting acumen, features a glowing testimonial from Kimberly Fletcher, the president of a group called Moms for America […] Fletcher and Thomas co-hosted a Remember the Ladies Banquet. A list of other speakers at the symposium includes Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers, an extremist militia group. Rhodes was arrested earlier this month and charged, along with ten associates, with seditious conspiracy for allegedly plotting to halt the congressional certification of Biden’s electoral win by storming the Capitol. […]

    Norman Eisen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who, between 2009 and 2011, served as the special counsel and special assistant to the President for ethics and government reform, told me that “it is hard to understand how Justice Thomas can be impartial when hearing cases related to the upheaval on January 6th, in light of his wife’s documented affiliation with January 6th instigators and Stop the Steal organizers.” He argues that “Justice Thomas should recuse himself, given his wife’s interests in the outcome of these cases.”

    […] The spouses of other Justices have taken steps to avoid creating conflicts of interest in the first place. When Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, her husband, Martin Ginsburg—then one of the country’s most successful tax lawyers—left his law firm and turned to teaching. After John Roberts was nominated to be a Justice, his wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, retired from practicing law and resigned from a leadership role in Feminists for Life, an anti-abortion group.

    […] political groups, many with secret donors, are “using the courts the way they used to use Congress—basically, amicus briefs are a means of lobbying.” […] the heiress Rebekah Mercer, was among Trump’s biggest backers. While two hundred thousand dollars was being passed from Trump backers to Gaffney to Ginni Thomas, the Supreme Court agreed to hear legal challenges to Trump’s travel restrictions. In August, 2017, Gaffney and six other advocates submitted an amicus brief to the Court in support of the restrictions, arguing that “the challenge of Islam must be confronted.”

    […] not long after Clarence and Ginni Thomas had a private dinner at the White House with Donald and Melania Trump, the President’s staff gave in to a months-long campaign by Ginni to bring her, Gaffney [Frank Gaffney, founder of Center for Security Policy, and a supporter of anti-Muslim and other retrograde policies], and several other associates to the White House to press the President on policy and personnel issues. The White House was not informed that Gaffney’s group had been paying Liberty Consulting [Ginni Thomas’s firm] for the previous two years. (Gaffney’s group did not report signing a contract with Liberty Consulting for 2019.)

    […] Thomas opened by saying that she didn’t trust everyone in the room, then pressed Trump to purge his Administration of disloyal members of the “deep state,” handing him an enemies list that she and Groundswell had compiled. Some of the participants prayed, warning that gay marriage, which the Supreme Court legalized in 2015, was undermining morals in America.

    […] At the time, the Senate was caught up in the fight over the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, who had been accused of sexual assault. “I’m feeling the pain—Clarence is feeling the pain—of going through false charges against a good man,” she said. […] America, she said, “is in a vicious battle for its founding principles,” adding, “The deep state is serious, and it’s resisting President Trump.” She declared twice that her adversaries were trying “to kill people,” and drew applause by saying, “May we all have guns and concealed carry to handle what’s coming!”

    […] The Defense Department conducted an internal investigation of the accusations and exonerated Vindman [one of Ginni Thomas’s targets]. But, Vindman told me, the attacks “harmed my career.” He went on, “It’s un-American, frankly, that a sitting Justice of the Supreme Court, who is supposed to be apolitical, would have a wife who is part of a political vendetta to retaliate against officials who were dutifully serving the public interest. […] Another target of Groundswell members was Trump’s former national-security adviser H. R. McMaster, who was deemed insufficiently supportive of the President. According to the Times, in 2018 Barbara Ledeen, a Republican Senate aide who had reportedly developed Groundswell’s enemies list with Ginni Thomas, participated in a plot to oust McMaster by secretly taping him bad-mouthing Trump.

    […] […] Ginni Thomas has held so many leadership or advisory positions at conservative pressure groups that it’s hard to keep track of them. And many, if not all, of these groups have been involved in cases that have come before her husband. Her Web site lists the National Association of Scholars—the group that has filed an amicus brief in the lawsuit against Harvard—among her “endorsed charities.”

    […] For lawyers involved in cases before the Supreme Court, it can be deeply disturbing to know that Ginni Thomas is an additional opponent. In 2019, David Dinielli, the visiting lecturer at Yale Law School, was a deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which had submitted an amicus brief in a gay-rights case before the Court. He told me he was acutely aware that Ginni Thomas and other members of the Council for National Policy loathed the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks right-wing hate groups. In 2017, C.N.P. Action directed its members to “commit to issuing one new post on Facebook and Twitter each week about the Southern Poverty Law Center to discredit them.” In Thomas’s leaked 2018 speech to the Council for National Policy, she denounced the S.P.L.C. for calling the Family Research Council—which is militantly opposed to L.G.B.T.Q. rights—a hate group. […]

  147. says

    ABC – “DOJ arrests Texas man over alleged threats to Georgia elections officials”:

    The Justice Department arrested and charged a Texas man on Friday over death threats he allegedly made targeting election and government officials in Georgia.

    This is the first known arrest brought by the department’s Election Threats Task Force, which launched last summer.

    Chad Christopher Stark, identified in the indictment as a resident of Leander, Texas, allegedly posted threatening messages on Craigslist.

    “Georgia Patriots it’s time to kill [Official A] the Chinese agent — $10,000,” one of Stark’s posts allegedly read.

    “It’s time to invoke our Second Amendment right it’s time to put a bullet in the treasonous Chinese [Official A]. Then we work our way down to [Official B] the local and federal corrupt judges… If we want our country back we have to exterminate these people… we need to pay a visit to [Official C] and her family as well and put a bullet her behind the ears,” an indictment quoted him as saying.

    It’s not immediately clear who the state officials were that prosecutors say Stark identified as his targets.

    “The Justice Department has a responsibility not only to protect the right to vote but also to protect those who administer our voting systems from violence and illegal threats of violence,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement announcing Stark’s arrest. “The department’s Election Threats Task Force, working with partners across the country, will hold accountable those who violate federal law by using violence or threatening violence to target election workers fulfilling their public duties.”

    The Justice Department of late has faced growing criticism for not acting more aggressively against a record wave of reported threats against elections officials and lawmakers in the wake of the 2020 election.

    Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite from the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and FBI Assistant Director Luis Quesada talked with reporters about the indictment….

    Quesada said that the task force is currently investigating allegations of these kinds of threats “across the country,” but declined to say if there were any regions or states that appeared to be more epicenters that were targeted — such as the seven swing states won by Biden that former President Trump and his allies worked to overturn.

    They also declined to comment on what effect Trump’s pressure campaign and deliberate targeting of officials in states who refused to help him overturn their results may have had in terms of fueling some of the threats towards workers and officials.

    Georgia, in particular, became a hotbed for such threats as former President Donald Trump and his allies worked to pressure officials such as GOP Gov. Brian Kemp and Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to overturn his loss to Joe Biden in the state….

  148. says

    Shell’s Alberta carbon capture plant doesn’t really capture as much as they claimed it would [Headline amended by yours truly]

    The promises of blue hydrogen are proving to be over-hyped and under-delivering when it comes to combatting climate change. Many polluters pushed blue hydrogen, which is created by using methods that separate natural gas into hydrogen and carbon dioxide, because it offers carbon capture strategies that companies like Shell believe offset enough of the greenhouse gases still emitted to justify its use. Reducing emissions—even by up to 90% as Shell wants for its Quest Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) facility—is simply not enough when we must work toward sustainable long-term solutions. Even worse, Shell can’t even hit that 90% mark that many within the industry boasted was possible. According to a report released on Thursday by the human rights group Global Witness, Shell’s Alberta, Canada, facility captures just 48% of its emissions.

    The Quest facility, which has been criticized for encroaching on First Nations land, is just one part of the problem of the larger Scotford Complex where it’s located. It’s worth noting that Shell has done little to address the concerns of nearby communities, as legitimate climate justice just probably doesn’t look like good PR to the polluter, nor does it help Shell continue to pump out up to 255,000 barrels of oil per day from the Scotford Complex. Since Quest CCS began operating in 2015, the facility has been used to capture emissions from the Scotford Upgrader in the Alberta tar sands, which is located in an area known as “Upgrader Alley.” Quest CCS also offers Shell one hell of a way to greenwash the Scotford Complex, which saw 7.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gases that include methane and carbon emitted in the first five years of Quest CCS’ use. Quest CCS was only able to capture 5 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in that same time period. Global Witness found that the substantial amount of carbon not captured by Quest per year is the equivalent of emissions from 1.2 million cars.

    Quest CCS also cost a pretty penny—but mostly for the Canadian government. Despite its $1 billion USD price tag, government subsidies covered about $654 million USD of that price. As Global Witness noted in a press release for its report, “the lesson from Quest should be loud and clear for governments all over the world. Do not invest in a technology that is not only failing to deliver any effective action in tackling the climate crisis—but is in fact contributing to it.” Canada clearly hasn’t learned that lesson, as the country paid nearly $18 billion supporting the fossil fuel industry last year alone and continues to subsidize other polluters. It’s a global issue that will require cooperation, if not only for net-zero’s massive price tag. In Canada alone, experts believe it will cost the country $2 trillion over the course of 30 years to reach that milestone.

    But in a scenario in which companies like Shell emit more greenhouse gases than they capture, the cost of doing little to nothing in the face climate change makes $2 trillion seems entirely reasonable. Catastrophic flooding in Canada last year was considered the fifth-costliest disaster in the world by charity Christian Aid, which ranked numerous U.S. storms on its list. The flooding in British Columbia was estimated to cost $7.5 billion and made 2021 one of the most expensive years for natural disasters that Canada had ever experienced. The U.S. found itself under similar circumstances as weather events like Hurricane Ida and Winter Storm Uri severely damaged entire communities and led to dozens of deaths. Global disaster costs are only going to get worse as climate change increases extreme weather events. That’s why legislation like the Build Back Better Act must pass if the U.S. and the entire world stands a chance at combatting climate change’s worst, and deadliest, effects. Call on Congress to pass Build Back Better and invest in greener solutions instead of buying into Shell’s and other polluters’ bullshit.

  149. says

    More re #189 above – NBC – “Organized on Facebook, a ‘who’s who’ of anti-vaccine activists head to D.C.”:

    Thousands of protesters are expected to descend on Washington this weekend for a rally against Covid-19 vaccine mandates, a sign that the anti-vaccination movement that gained traction on social media during the pandemic is spilling even further into politics and real life.

    The rally has been largely organized on Facebook and some extremist internet forums, and organizers have raised at least $200,000 on a crowdfunding site. Some nearby hotels in Virginia are sold out ahead of the event, according to the event’s organizers, who are arranging last-minute travel plans for latecomers.

    The “Defeat the Mandates DC” Facebook group, in which much of the organizing has taken place, now has more than 11,000 members, gaining almost 3,000 in just the last week. Organizers of the rally, Defeat The Mandates: An American Homecoming, say they are expecting tens of thousands of attendees who will begin their protest at the Washington Monument at 10:30 a.m. ET Sunday.

    The event adds momentum to activists who continue to find ways to spread false and misleading claims about the Covid vaccines, now often focusing on mandates as an entry point.

    Anti-vaccine groups on Telegram have also pushed local “Defeat the Mandates” rallies planned for Sunday in several cities, including Denver and Sacramento, California. Some of the events have been amplified on Telegram by members of extremist groups like the Proud Boys, with one account adding that the event in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, would feature a “mask burning.”

    Kolina Koltai, a postdoctoral fellow who researches the anti-vaccine movement at the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, said the D.C. event was bringing together some of the most high-profile anti-vaccine activists.

    “It’s a who’s who of grifters and people who made a profit off the pandemic,” she said

    The permit for the rally was filed by the Children’s Health Defense Fund. Organizers expect 20,000 people, according to the permit, which also requires attendees to wear masks in crowded outdoor areas.

    Koltai said that while most, if not all, of the speakers at Sunday’s rally oppose vaccines, referring to the rally as being against mandates is a way to drum up wider support and also evade bans from Facebook and Twitter, which frequently take down anti-vaccine misinformation.

    “As policies have changed on Facebook, we’ve seen anti-vaccine groups rebrand to ‘pro-medical freedom’ or ‘pro-choice,’” she said. “They’re using terms that they know are not going to get censored.”

    On the event’s Facebook group, users have spent the last week strategizing ways around Washington’s indoor vaccine mandate, which would prevent the unvaccinated from accessing most indoor public venues and restaurants.

    The group has arranged buses, coordinated travel arrangements and have caused hotels across the Potomac River in Virginia to be sold out, where there is no vaccine mandate. Some users in the group have shared directions on how to forge vaccine cards to get into restaurants.

    According to Advance Democracy, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research group, several users on the extremist site Patriots[dot]win, which hosted in-depth plans to attack the Capitol in the days before the Jan. 6 riot, plan to attend.

    “Users on Patriots[dot]win are talking about attending this rally after they talked about staying away from the Sept. 18 rally because they worried it was a false-flag event,” said Daniel Jones, a former FBI analyst and a longtime Senate investigator who is now president of Advance Democracy. The Sept. 18 rally, a “Justice for January 6” event in support of jailed rioters, fizzled after extremist groups and far-right forums warned one another to stay away.

  150. says

    Good news:

    Teachers, social workers, firefighters, members of the military, and other government and nonprofit workers are seeing their student debt wiped clean thanks to the Biden administration’s overhaul of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. The program was supposed to make public service work more appealing by offering the promise that, after 10 years of payments, people’s student loans would be forgiven. Instead, virtually no one qualified—just over 16,000 people as of fall 2021. That has changed.

    Around 70,000 public servants have now gotten nearly $5 billion in relief, and in the end, up to 550,000 of them could get help.

    This change comes because, after years of rejections because people had been paying on loans from the wrong program, or had paid a little late or submitted payments that were off by as little as a few cents—rejections that often came after people had paid for 10 years in good faith, without being told they weren’t qualifying—the Department of Education put into place a temporary fix. It allows people to consolidate all of their loans into eligible ones and submit a form to get their payments to this point—including the ones that would have previously been considered ineligible—to count toward forgiveness.

    That’s 70,000 people who, after years of working for the public good and faithfully paying their loans, have gotten relief. The joy is palpable when people post about it on social media—but also the surprise that the system is now working on this front.

    Holy shit. I reapplied for the public service loan forgiveness (10 years at nonprofit) since they loosened the rules. They denied at first, but I just got noticed that all my med school loans are forgiven. In shock. [Lee Dossett]

    After 18 years in Education my student loans were forgiven this week, all thanks to the Public Servant Loan Forgiveness (#PSLF ) revamp. Still in shock! [T Igwe]

    I didn’t believe this would ever actually happen, but I finally received my #PSLF notification today! To say I’m relieved would be a huge understatement. Thanks @POTUS@JoeBiden! [Philip Clelland]

    […] Biden campaigned on forgiving $10,000 in student debt for everyone, but he hasn’t [been able to get that done]


  151. says

    I thought I remembered posting about this. On January 5th, I linked to an(other) article by Ben Collins containing this:

    Extremists have largely avoided pushing events on the anniversary [of the attempted putsch] Thursday, outside of several small “vigils” planned for Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer when she tried to break into the chamber of the House of Representatives.

    QAnon adherents, anti-vaccine activists and Trump supporters have instead turned their attention to an anti-vaccination march on Washington on Jan. 23, which has been promoted by Steve Bannon’s War Room and anti-vaccine influencers.

  152. says

    Not Michael Flynn In An Alleged Extortion Plot? The Devil You Say!

    The Guardian just broke a wild story about former National Security Advisor and current wingnut freak Michael Flynn trying to persuade members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation to back an audit of the state’s election, which President Joe Biden won by 80,000 votes. According to Everett Stern, a Republican running for Pennsylvania’s open Senate seat, he was approached in April by members of Flynn’s so-called Patriot Caucus, who hoped to dig up dirt on retiring Sen. Pat Toomey and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, both Republicans, in an effort to convince them to support the recount.

    Yes, that would be April of 2021, five months after the election and three months after Biden was sworn in.

    It’s a long article, with lots of detail on people who should be calling their lawyers right this minute. But in short, allies of Flynn told Stern they hoped to recruit “former domestic and foreign intelligence officials” for their plan. Stern, a former whistleblower at HSBC who runs an intelligence firm called Tactical Rabbit, fit the bill. Stern, who kept texts and emails from the group, says they offered to “pay him” via campaign contributions, and that the group hoped to pressure judges in the same way.

    He tipped off the FBI in June, and has had long chats about this unfortunate series of events with both federal law enforcement officials and the Select Committee.

    And in case Michael Flynn is Googling it right now, no, pre-emptive pardons for criminal shit you might do in the future are not a thing. […]


  153. says

    […] Trump called in to Sean Hannity’s Fox News Lie Jamboree Hour last night, and we suppose the real news is that we managed to watch most of it without even puking once. […]

    The Great Man was purportedly there to talk about Joe Biden’s news conference Wednesday, but honestly, it was just another chance for Trump to repeat the same old lies he always does, with Hannity from time to time jumping in to try to keep Trump on some sort of train of thought. […]

    Trump said he really truly hoped Biden would do well, because America needs to do well, but instead everything is terrible, and also Trump was glad the US is finally out of Afghanistan, although if it had been up to him, we’d have left Afghanistan better and we should have kept Bagram Air Base. Which, if you want to get technical about it, would have meant the US would still be in Afghanistan.

    Hannity tried to steer back to what a gracious fellow Trump is, complimenting him on how nice it is that Trump so sincerely wants Biden to do well. But the thing is, Hannity said, Biden is just no good at accepting criticism and acting on it, and that’s very frustrating. In fact, he said, Biden seems

    locked into every one of these failed policies. So, you know, you know, you keep banging your head against the wall. Why would you expect a different result?

    The very smart former president of the US apparently is unfamiliar with simple English idioms, so he thought Hannity had to be talking about an actual WALL, like Donald Trump’s greatest achievement.

    That, or he just heard the word “wall” and it triggered a Pavlovian response. We’re especially fond of the long silence before Trump answers. [video is available at the link]

    TRUMP: So we would have had the wall completed in three weeks. It was largely completed. We did almost 500 miles of wall and the southern border. It was really working, it really had an impact.

    He just couldn’t stop talking about what a wonderful job he’d done with WALL and immigration, before Biden ruined everything, and now the US is full of immigrants and nobody respects America anymore, and did he mention Afghanistan?

    OK we really need you to to strap in if you’re going to stick with us here. Are you in your comfortable chair? Are you ready to follow the bouncing Trump literally wherever it goes? Because we’re going to follow it. We’re doing this.


    Continuing with his sharp expertise on foreign policy, Trump said if he were still in office, you wouldn’t have any problems in Ukraine, not that Trump ever had any misadventures involving Ukraine or anything. Also, he predicted, as soon as the Winter Olympics are over, China might just invade Taiwan, and also something something Kim Jong-un and Iran, and we could have had a deal with Iran in just one week if Trump were still president.

    It’s really impressive how he was “president” for four years but never got around to that stuff that would have only taken a week or three.

    Hannity suggested that if Trump were boss, he’d bankrupt Russia by drilling all the oil and sending it to Europe, and he’d stop China by banning all imports of Chinese goods. That’d learn ’em. Trump explained that the real beauty of his term was that he made China pay us “hundreds of billions” in tariffs (which were actually paid by US buyers, not a cent from China). and he wouldn’t let Russia ever do anything bad in Ukraine, and we would by God go to war over Ukraine maybe, and why are gas prices so high now, huh?

    We pity anyone who might actually try to transcribe any of that nonsense.

    Trump explained that gasoline now costs over five dollars a gallon, and in California it’s over seven, which is completely true if you add two or three dollars to the actual price. […] Also, WALL.

    Hannity went on to explain how Biden’s economy is terrible, and Trump agreed that nobody respects us, all our allies hate us instead of respecting us, and also Afghanistan a third or fourth time, and no Americans died in Afghanistan in 18 months when he was president, and then at the airport, the bombing, and we lost 13 soldiers and “many many wounded, horribly wounded, with legs and arms horribly wounded, the way they got out, and the list, the people, that the plane left …”

    Hannity, continuing that laserlike focus on Biden’s economy, then praised Trump for threatening the Taliban with being “wiped out” if they misbehaved. And then Trump said that he would have taken every single American truck and tank and gun out of Afghanistan so the Taliban wouldn’t have them.

    This would presumably include the military equipment the Afghan military abandoned when it surrendered to the Taliban. I guess the idea is that they never could have surrendered it if the US had seized it first. Can’t see any problems with that plan. Also, he wouldn’t have abandoned the American “hostages” in Afghanistan, by which we suppose he must mean the US citizens who stayed behind because they couldn’t get visas for their Afghan family members to come to the US. We all know how eager Trump was to keep Americans and their noncitizen families together.

    In any case, Trump eventually caught up with the question about the economy, and noted that the US economy was in great shape before Biden took office, at least as long as you ignore the final year of Trump’s term, which Trump certainly did. America was pretty much a paradise when Trump was president.

    “It was a joyous time because our country did so well,” even with all the hoaxes Hillary perpetrated to ruin him. But then the “China virus” arrived and Trump solved that too by personally formulating the vaccines, but no mandates, because “the mandates are killing this country.” And also all the judges Trump appointed, it was a beautiful time.

    That made Hannity want to talk about energy, which for some reason made Trump want to talk about the crisis at the border again, and Afghanistan a fourth or fifth time.

    Are you all still OK out there? Anybody need to stop and get a snack?

    Somewhere in there Trump also explained that the windmills are actually ruining the atmosphere and killing the birds and they’re so ugly, just big rusty noisy hulks everywhere and killing the birds, and did you know wind is the “most expensive form of energy” also? Do we need to point out that’s a lie, too? Wind is in fact the least expensive source of energy today. […]

    Other highlights of the interview included Trump lying about January 6 again (very loving people, and Nancy Pelosi didn’t protect the Capitol), and some additional bragging about how he did so great on his cognitive test, no way can Joe Biden point to “camel” as well as Donald Trump did, person woman man camera TV!

    Weirdly, Trump and Hannity never once got around to those text messages in which Hannity warned that Trump should never say “stolen election” again, or the others where he said Trump had to tell his supporters to get the hell out of the Capitol. That might have gotten in the way of all the pressing discussion of Afghanistan and WALL. […]

  154. KG says

    I thought this up years ago upon reading a Pharyngula post on the “Make Pangaea Great Again” joke, but didn’t have a commenting account back then – lumipuna@194

    I don’t recall that post, but I do remember a Scientific American article, I’d guess somewhere between 10 and 20 years ago (and unfortunately I don’t recall the title or authors), positing a roughly 500 million year “supercontinental cycle”, during the course of which a supercontinent (Pangaea being the most recent) breaks up, and the pieces drift across the globe and eventually reassemble. So, if you are prepared to wait, Pangaea will indeed be great again! But maybe the post referred to that article?

  155. lumipuna says

    KG – It was just PZ quoting a meme poster connecting Pangaea and the (then newly coined) MAGA slogan.

  156. says

    Supreme Court’s Sotomayor calls Texas abortion case a ‘disaster’ in blistering dissent

    “I will not stand by silently as a state continues to nullify this constitutional guarantee,” the liberal justice said.

    Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Thursday called the Supreme Court case involving Texas’ restrictive abortion law a “disaster” and a “grave disservice to women in Texas” in a dissent that ripped into state officials and criticized some of her fellow justices.

    Sotomayor issued the sharply worded dissent to a Supreme Court order that declined for the second time to send the case back to the original trial judge in Texas, a venue that the challengers of the law had hoped might provide them with some relief. The Supreme Court had sent the case back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which has now delayed a resolution of the case even further while the law remains in force.

    Sotomayor, joined by fellow liberal Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, noted that when the Supreme Court ruled in December that the law could be challenged, it allowed a lawsuit to proceed narrowly against Texas medical licensing officials, rather than also including state court clerks, judges and attorney general, as the challengers had sought. But earlier this week, the appeals court asked the Texas state Supreme Court for its views on whether even those licensing officials could be sued.

    “Texas wagered that this court would not mean what it said” in its December ruling, “or at least that this court would not stand behind those words, meager as they were. That bet has paid off,” Sotomayor wrote in her separate dissent.

    She described the Texas law, known as S.B. 8, as “a convoluted law that instills terror in those who assist women exercising their rights between 6 and 24 weeks.” The law allows anyone, anywhere, to sue any person for at least $10,000 who performs or assists in an abortion after about the sixth week of pregnancy.

    “State officials knew that the fear and confusion caused by this legal-procedural labyrinth would restrict citizens from accessing constitutionally protected medical care,” she said.

    Concluding her dissent, Sotomayor wrote: “This case is a disaster for the rule of law and a grave disservice to women in Texas who have a right to control their own bodies. I will not stand by silently as a state continues to nullify this constitutional guarantee.”

    The Supreme Court has yet to issue its decision in a separate case involving a Mississippi law that would ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. That case is a direct challenge to earlier Supreme Court rulings, beginning with Roe v. Wade, that said a state cannot ban abortion before the age of fetal viability, long considered to occur at around the 24th week of pregnancy. […]

  157. tomh says

    Republicans acting like Republicans.

    Up North News:
    Ex-GOP Official Who Told People to ‘Prepare for War’ Will Be a Hudson [Wisconsin] Election Worker
    Julian Emerson / January 20, 2022

    The man who stepped down as chair of the St. Croix County Republican Party after urging people to “prepare for war” will get to serve as an election judge in Hudson—and a council member who criticized the move has been forced to apologize.

    John Kraft resigned a year ago as local Republican Party leader amid pressure from his own political party after making a series of social media posts in which he urged people to “prepare for war” against political opponents in the months leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol. Council member Joyce Hall issued an apology to Kraft during Tuesday’s City Council meeting rather than face censure.

    The pushback against Hall for objecting to Kraft represents another sign of Republicans seeking more oversight of 2022 elections in Wisconsin and elsewhere across the country. Emboldened by former President Donald Trump and his repeated claims of fraud in the 2020 election—despite having no evidence—federal, state, and local Republicans have sought to sow mistrust in the election process.

    At a Dec. 6 meeting at which Hudson City Council members approved election workers, Hall objected to having Kraft work at a polling place because of his controversial comments on social media. Hall’s statement prompted backlash from her council colleague, Randy Morrissette, who accused her of acting in a partisan manner….

    Kraft subsequently filed an ethics complaint against Hall, and the city hired an attorney to investigate the matter. During a meeting last week to discuss Kraft’s complaint, Morrisette and Mayor Rich O’Connor criticized Hall for objecting to Kraft working at polling places, saying that action wasn’t fair to Kraft.

    At the meeting, during which the council decided that Hall must apologize to Kraft or face censure, O’Connor said Hall’s white supremacy allegation against Kraft was “egregious.” Hall ran against O’Connor in the 2020 mayoral race.

    Hall was referencing a Sept. 8 city meeting at which Kraft spoke and wore a sweatshirt emblazoned with a Templar cross and chainmail pattern, according to meeting video footage. Right-wing groups have adopted the Knights Templar symbol and others as a means of espousing their viewpoints. In the investigation of his ethics complaint, Kraft told investigators he wore the cross not as a sign of violence or intolerance but of his Christian faith.

    Kraft has called 2020 election results into question as well, with multiple posts on his Facebook page discrediting the results, such as a Nov. 4 post titled “Happy Election Fest Memorial Day.”

  158. says

    Saturday marks the two year anniversary of an interview with Donald Trump at the world economic forum following the announcement of the first case of “novel coronavirus” in the United States. Asked if he was worried about a pandemic, this is how Trump replied.

    “No. Not it all. We have it totally under control. It’s one person, coming in from China. And We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” Trump then goes on to brag about his “great relationship” with Communist Party boss Xi Jinping. That first statement was just one of many that would come over the following months as Trump repeatedly downplayed the threat posed by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. [chart available at the link]

    This weekend in Washington D.C., there will be a gathering that’s estimated draw over 10,000 people. These people will not be there to mourn the 887,000 known to have died from the virus in the United States. They won’t be there to celebrate the advances represented by the vaccines, or to call for protections against a wave of virus that represents a growing threat to children. Instead, they’ll be there to carry on Trump’s legacy—downplaying the pandemic, touting false cures, and undermining science. And, of course, they organized this action using the site that, throughout the pandemic, has provided a welcome home to conspiracy theories and harmful claims: Facebook.

    As NBC News reports, this weekend has been marked out for a anti-vaccine protest in Washington. That, of course, includes an featured role by Robert Kennedy Jr., who is currently suing Daily Kos in the attempt to dox an anonymous poster, along with his badly misnamed “Children’s Health Defense Fund.” Kennedy’s group will gather with other like-mindless groups and individuals — thanks to their ability to organize on a platform that continues to provide a centralized meeting place for misinformation and disinformation while churning out a pretense of action.

    “The rally has been largely organized on Facebook and some extremist internet forums, and organizers have raised at least $200,000 on a crowdfunding site. Some nearby hotels in Virginia are sold out ahead of the event, according to the event’s organizers, who are arranging last-minute travel plans for latecomers.

    Really, that should be Facebook and other extremist internet forums.

    But the group isn’t just gathering to promote lies about vaccines, or just to spread lies about the danger posed by the pandemic, or just to spread lies about the origins of the virus. They are also there to spread lies about COVID-19 treatments.

    Key speakers include Dr. Robert Malone, a frequent guest on Joe Rogan’s anti-science podcast where he has advocated the use of ineffective anti-parasitic drug, ivermectin, Kennedy’s group is bringing along their own set of pet quacks who are not just pushing ivermectin, but also the long disproven hydroxychloroquine.</blockquote. The whackos and quacks are making money off those false claims. Money.

    It’s not quite been two years since Trump began pushing hydroxychloroquine as a “miracle” cure for COVID-19. Between March and November of 2020, Canadian researchers tried to put a value on the damage Trump had done through pushing an anti-malarial drug to treat a viral disease. In just the eight months they covered, that damage was significant. Because people were not just listening to Trump’s advice on false cures; due to the concern everyone had about COVID-19, these claims got three times the audience of Trump’s usual disinformation.

    “From March 1 to April 30, 2020, Donald J Trump made 11 tweets about unproven therapies and mentioned these therapies 65 times in White House briefings, especially touting hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. These tweets had an impression reach of 300% above Donald J Trump’s average. Following these tweets, at least 2% of airtime on conservative networks for treatment modalities like azithromycin and continuous mentions of such treatments were observed on stations like Fox News. Google searches and purchases increased following his first press conference on March 19, 2020, and increased again following his tweets on March 21, 2020. The same is true for medications on Amazon, with purchases for medicine substitutes, such as hydroxychloroquine, increasing by 200%.”

    Over the course of his remaining time in office, Trump took up the cause of other fake cures, including suggesting the possibility of injecting disinfectants and somehow getting sunshine inside affected people. As a direct result of these pushes from Trump and others on the right wing, people have been poisoning themselves with colloidal silver, inhaling bleach, drinking absolutely toxic Miracle Mineral Solution, flooding poison control centers with overdoses of ivermectin, and downing fatal doses of hydroxychloroquine. […]


  159. says

    I don’t know if this will make much difference, but Senator Kyrsten Sinema was formally censured by the Arizona Democratic Party.

    The Arizona Democratic Party’s executive committee formally censured Sen. Kyrsten Sinema on Saturday morning as a result of her inaction on changing the filibuster rules to pass voting rights reform.

    “…on the matter of the filibuster and the urgency to protect voting rights, we have been crystal clear. In the choice between an archaic legislative norm and protecting Arizonans’ right to vote, we choose the latter, and we always will,” Chairwoman Raquel Teran said in a statement.

    “While we take no pleasure in this announcement, the ADP Executive Board has decided to formally censure Senator Sinema as a result of her failure to do whatever it takes to ensure the health of our democracy.”

    Sinema is facing renewed heat from those who helped elect her after she and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia this week were the only two Democrats to vote against filibuster reform, effectively derailing passage of voting rights legislation.

    The slim Democratic majority in the Senate meant filibuster reform was seen as crucial for passing the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act — a top priority for Democrats and President Joe Biden.

    Arizona Democrats organized heavily to elect Sinema to the Senate — she previously served in the U.S. House — helping give her a narrow victory. They lobbied Sinema for months to change her stance on the filibuster, but many were unable to get a meeting with the senator.

    With her refusal to change the filibuster rule — siding with Republicans — and voting rights dead for now in the Senate, Democrats in Arizona are fundraising to support Sinema’s primary challenger in 2024. […]

    “This should not be a partisan issue — the duty to protect our most fundamental right to vote is one that we all share,” Arizona Democratic Party Chairwoman Raquel Teran said in a statement. “We were counting on Sen. Sinema to fight for Arizona, find a path forward, and protect our democracy, but on this issue she has fallen short. Right now, Arizona is ground-zero for the modern-day fight for voting rights, and we don’t have any time to waste.”

    The Grand Canyon state is a hotspot for Republican-led changes on voting. After the 2020 election, the state Senate ordered a partisan review of millions of the state’s ballots, which unfolded while the Republican-controlled state legislature expressed focus on restrictive voting bills. Republicans all but eliminated the state’s permanent early voting list, making it so ballots are no longer automatically sent to voters who haven’t used the system. The bills were a cornerstone of GOP lawmaking in 2021, and the 2022 session continues to focus on election reform.

    Activists and voters at home point to these Republican-led efforts as a backdrop for Sinema’s refusal to budge.

    Sinema lost a major endorsement this week from Emily’s List, a large political organization that bankrolls campaigns they endorse, including those who support abortion rights.

    […] Groups looking to fund a primary challenger have raised at least $455,000. Two groups have yet to single out a candidate, but other Democrats are lobbying Rep. Ruben Gallego to challenge Sinema. One political action committee, dubbed “Run Ruben Run,” will funnel money in his direction should he choose to enter the race.

    Gallego hasn’t ruled out a run at Sinema’s seat, and he tweeted a veiled warning after the failed Senate votes this week.

    “I’m disappointed by the failure of the Senate to move the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. But I’m not giving up & neither should you. Let’s work hard to elect good Democrats who support voting rights and defeat the ones who don’t — in 22 and beyond,” Gallego tweeted.

    The congressman also told CNN that his phone has been ringing with requests for him to jump in against Sinema, saying there is “a whole lot of frustration over a lot of things that have occurred in the past with Sen. Sinema, and this has kind of been the breaking point.”

    […] “Millions of Democrats and pro-democracy independents are furious with Sinema,” one fundraising group wrote in a post after Wednesday’s vote. “Give them a chance to do something with that anger that can help turn the tide. This fight is not over. But together we will ensure that Kyrsten Sinema’s career in elected office ended tonight.”


  160. says

    “UPDATED Virginia school districts keeping their mask mandates & defying Gov. Youngkin’s executive order:”

    Colonial Beach
    Colonial Heights
    Isle of Wight
    King and Queen
    Manassas City
    Newport News
    Prince William
    Roanoke City
    Staunton City
    Williamsburg-James City

  161. blf says

    This is perhaps a bit embarrassing, with as-yet unknown taste or other consequences…
    At this week’s outdoors market, I brought a nice chunk of cow. The cow was quite happy about it, rather like the Dish of the Day in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, albeit since it was mooing with a strong French accent, I only got the gist of its comments. Anyways, I decided to do the boeuf bourguignon thing. So I went to the local organics shop to get suitable veggies, including potatoes.

    Washing the potatoes I noticed they were a very dark, but not (as I had thought) due to the layer of dirt encrusting them. Eh? Black potatoes… I vaguely recall there is such a thing, but I’m not really familiar with them. Chopping the first one, uh-oh, nope, this looks like a beet. A sodding beet. About the only thing good about a beet is it isn’t a pea, zucchini (courgette), squash, etc. So just the one into the pot, and sadly, no potatoes. (Lots of other veggies and penguin feathers, however.)

    I have no idea what’s going to happen, other than it probably won’t explode. Maybe. Might even be tamed by the bourguignon vin… At the moment, the concoction smells good, but it still needs to cook for awhile.

  162. says

    Vice – “Anti-Vaxxers Think a 9-Digit Code Shows Vaccine Sites Are Criminal. It Doesn’t.”:

    …“Many individuals in anti-vaccine/restriction communities in the UK have been misled into thinking that there’s currently an open investigation into the COVID vaccines and that citizen action to close vaccine centres would therefore not only be justified but encouraged [by police],” Nick Backovic, a senior analyst at Logically, told VICE World News.

    “This has, as result, emboldened the individuals in these groups into action they think is lawful and justified, which explains why we’re seeing such a sudden spike in vaccine centre disruptions in a matter of days,” he continued, describing their actions as “both wrong and dangerous.”…

    Much, much more at the link.

  163. blf says

    Only in Ireland… Two men take corpse into Irish post office to claim dead man’s pension:

    Gardaí [Irish police] have launched an investigation after two men carried a dead body into an Irish post office in an apparent attempt to claim his pension.

    The deceased pensioner was described in reports as being “propped up” by the men as they walked into the building in County Carlow on Friday morning.

    The outlandish series of events began when one of the men entered the post office at about 11.30am on Friday, asking to collect a pension payment for an older man, the Irish Times reported. He was refused, with staff informing him that the pensioner would have to be present in order for the money to be handed over.

    The man returned soon after with two other men, one of whom was in his 60s and appeared to be being supported by the two others. The younger men asked to be given his pension payment.

    No cash was handed over and the two men fled the scene, abandoning the man’s body after a woman who had become suspicious raised the alarm with a staff member. The deceased man is reported to have been well known to the men who had been carrying his body.

    Whilst funny (in a sense), very distressing for the An Post staff and the deceased man’s family.

  164. says

    “Trump Attempts Wordle,” a New Yorker cartoon.


    The cartoon shows a pudgy hand wielding a black sharpie pen to write, “PERSON, WOMAN, MAN, CAMERA, TV” on a Wordle grid displayed on a smart phone.

  165. says


    Last week, with a trembling voice, Arizona Senator […] Kyrsten Sinema did her darned best to make a compelling case for why the country so desperately needs the filibuster that is currently preventing the Democratic Party from passing literally any legislation that Republicans don’t want, despite having earned a majority in the Senate. She did not succeed, largely because her whole point — that the filibuster prevents things from getting too radical one way or another, and could hypothetically help Democrats when they are the minority — was undermined by the fact that being unable to pass voting rights legislation now means that there will no longer be any back and forth in terms of which party is the minority and which is the majority. And then Republicans can do whatever the hell they want, including getting rid of the filibuster.

    No one is buying her act, including the Arizona Democratic Party, which announced on Saturday morning that they are formally censuring Sinema for, well screwing the entire country. [see comment 213]

    […] given that Arizona is one of the 19 states where Republicans have enacted voter suppression laws designed to disproportionately impact the ability of minorities and the poor to vote and have their votes counted. The inability to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act will directly impact the ability of Democrats to win elections in the state.

    Sinema’s office responded to the censure by essentially saying that Sinema isn’t a Democrat to begin with anyway:

    “During three terms in the U.S. House, and now in the Senate, Kyrsten has always promised Arizonans she would be an independent voice for the state — not for either political party. She’s delivered for Arizonans and has always been honest about where she stands,” Sinema spokesperson Hannah Hurley said.

    Except the reason she was elected to the Senate in the first place was due to the efforts of Arizona Democrats, who were understandably under the impression that since she was running as a Democrat, she would bear some resemblance to one. One would also imagine that if Arizonans wanted a Republican to represent them, they would have voted for Martha McSally instead of her.

    Sinema, unbelievably, still claims that she supports the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and that she supports the Women’s Health Protection Act — and yet, she can’t manage to say exactly how it is that these things would get passed, doing things her way. Does she only like them in the hypothetical?

    On Wednesday, Sinema explained, again, that she simply cannot support “actions that would deepen our divisions and risk repeated radical reversals in federal policy, cementing uncertainty and further eroding confidence in our government.” It’s not clear what it is she thinks would be more radical than abortion becoming illegal or people of color being disenfranchised en masse. What would that even be? And what erodes “confidence in government” more than people feeling like their votes don’t count and that they have no hope of ever changing anything through the electoral system?

    Because that’s what’s going to happen.

    Arizona Democrats are not the only ones telling Sinema to take a hike. This week, both Emily’s List and NARAL, two very mainstream Democratic organizations, rescinded their support for her as well. Various groups in Arizona are looking for a Democrat to primary her, with many looking at Rep. Ruben Gallego as a potential option.


  166. says

    Kurt Bardella of USA Today has had it with the acceptance of GOP obstructionism by the media.

    Speaking for an impressive 1 hour and 51 minutes, President Joe Biden delivered the question that should define the rest of 2022, “What are Republicans for?”

    For the first year of the Biden presidency, Republicans have been able to universally oppose the Biden agenda while escaping scrutiny to offer alternatives. It’s hardly surprising for a political party that didn’t even bother to write a party platform at their last political convention. But the media’s penchant for diving head-first into “Democrats in disarray” narratives while so casually accepting GOP obstructionism is a tremendous disservice to the American people.

    You cannot chronicle the Biden administration’s perceived shortcomings addressing COVID-19 without first acknowledging the context that the Republican Party has done anything and everything possible to sabotage life-saving health care initiatives and promote misinformation.

    You cannot report on efforts to protect voting rights in America without first talking about the 19 states that have enacted new voting restriction laws or the unanimous opposition from Republicans in Congress to measures that would shore up the right to vote.

    You cannot chastise the president for not having enough news conferences or doing enough interviews without pointing out that “the former guy” told more than 30,000 lies in four years.

    USA Today link

  167. says

    Blinken ‘very convinced’ on ‘united response’ against Russia

    “I’m very confidant, based on the many consultations I’ve had with European allies and partners, that there will be a swift, calibrated and also united response,” Blinken [Secretary of State Antony Blinken] said. “Look, I sat with [German Chancellor Olaf Scholz] in Germany last week, as well as with my German counterpart, my French counterpart, my British counterpart and I am very convinced there will be a united response to whatever Russia does.”

  168. says

    U.K. accuses Russia of scheming to install a pro-Kremlin government in Ukraine

    The British government on Saturday accused Russia of organizing a plot to install a pro-Moscow government in Ukraine, as the Kremlin masses troops and materiel near the Ukrainian border in what Western officials fear is an impending military assault on the neighboring nation.

    The U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office gave relatively little information about the intelligence unveiled Saturday other than to say that the Russian government was considering trying to make a Russia-leaning former member of Ukraine’s parliament, Yevhen Murayev, the country’s new leader.

    […] British authorities also said they had information showing how Russia’s intelligence services maintain links with numerous former Ukrainian politicians. Some of those former Ukrainian politicians are in contact with Russian intelligence officers planning the attack on Ukraine, the British government said.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry denied the allegations in a Twitter statement, saying the British announcement was evidence that NATO countries, “led by the Anglo-Saxons,” are escalating tensions around Ukraine.

    […] Murayev posted on social media Sunday morning a statement that did not mention the accusations against him, but said that Ukrainians needed leaders who “who will not create confrontation on linguistic or religious grounds.” “The time of pro-Western and pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine is gone forever,” he said.

    Britain also named four former associates of ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych as examples of former politicians in contact with Russian intelligence but did not say whether those four were involved directly in the plot to install Murayev.

    […] The four former associates that the British government named as contacts of Russian intelligence are former Ukrainian prime minister Mykola Azarov, former first deputy prime minister Serhiy Arbuzov, former Yanukovych chief of staff Andriy Klyuyev and former deputy head of the Ukrainian National Security Council Vladimir Sivkovich.

    […] Rather than attempting an overt overthrow of the pro-Western government in Kyiv, analysts suspect that if Putin attempted a coup, he would instead seek to encourage the collapse of the current government and covertly promote a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician who would have more local credibility. The British government’s announcement was an attempt to thwart that activity.

    […] “When the Russians attempt this and say, ‘This is an independent Ukrainian political movement,’ we can say, ‘No, that’s not true, this is the work of your intelligence apparatus which we’ve been warning about,’ ” the official said.

    U.S. officials said they have no reason to doubt the British intelligence.

    “This kind of plotting is deeply concerning,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement. “The Ukrainian people have the sovereign right to determine their own future, and we stand with our democratically-elected partners in Ukraine.”

    The British government’s announcement came two days after the U.S. Treasury sanctioned a group of current and former Ukrainian officials, accusing some of them of helping Russia lay the groundwork to install a Moscow-friendly government in Ukraine.

    “Russia has directed its intelligence services to recruit current and former Ukrainian government officials to prepare to take over the government of Ukraine and to control Ukraine’s critical infrastructure with an occupying Russian force,” the Treasury Department said.

    […] Ukrainian officials were surprised by the idea that a Russian plot would seek to install Murayev, a relatively marginal figure in Ukrainian politics who was sanctioned by Russia in 2018, as the country’s new leader.

    […] Murayev is from Ukraine’s eastern Kharkiv region, a Russian-speaking part of the country north of Donbas. He is a former member of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions and other Russia-leaning political factions that emerged after the party’s implosion in 2014.

    Murayev ran for Ukraine’s president in 2019 but dropped out of the race.

    […] “There will be a lot of changes, and they’re inevitable,” he said. “Therefore, honestly, I’m in a terrific mood in expectation of this year.”

  169. says

    The MSNBC correspondent at the anti-vax event is not doing a good job. I’m relieved they followed his reporting with Mehdi Hasan and now Ben Collins.

    I also read Bret Weinstein pulled out at the last minute, LOL.

  170. says

    Good news – from the Independent’s liveblog:

    Smaller crowd than expected

    A smaller crowd than expected arrived in Washington, DC to protest vaccine mandates and pandemic restrictions.

    A permit issued by the National Park Service revealed that the rally organisers thought that as many as 20,000 people would attend, but The Washington Post estimated that a group of several thousand had made it to the National Mall by Sunday afternoon.

  171. says

    Vera Bergengruen livetweeted the anti-vax thing:

    Good morning from the “Defeat the Mandates” March.

    According to the organizers, more than 24,000 people have said they’re going to the rally [see #226 above]. It starts at the Washington Monument and ends with speeches at the Lincoln Memorial.

    There’s a lot going on at today’s “Defeat the Mandates” rally in DC. To give you an idea, it was promoted on both Joe Rogan’s podcast and Steve Bannon’s.

    “Defeat the Mandates” organizers insist it’s not an “anti-vax rally” and it’s been promoted as an “American homecoming” with 1960s [peace symbol] imagery in videos like the one below. But speakers are a who’s who of anti-vax celebrities, from Robert Kennedy Jr to ivermectin-promoting doctors

    The event really took off after it was promoted on Joe Rogan’s podcast, which was heavily used in advertising the “Defeat the Mandates” march.

    For ex. the clip was used to raise more than $250,000 for the event on Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo

    A lot of confusing/clashing imagery going on here. There’s tambourines, “Mandate Your Ass” signs, Catholic nuns still here from March for Life, countless “Let’s go Brandon,” Trump 2024 & 60s hippie peace flags, InfoWars, kids with “Masks Don’t Work” signs.

    Oh and the Proud Boys

    Crowd is currently singing along to songs with choruses “We will not comply” and “we don’t care what you say, it’s God over the government”

    Speakers at the “Defeat the Mandates” March are all repeatedly citing MLK to cheers from the crowd.

    “We’re here to apologize to Dr. King…he knew you can’t comply your way out of tyranny,” anti-vaccine comedian JP Sears says introducing the event.

    Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, anti-vax doctors are getting heroes’ reception from crowd of thousands for being “silenced” and “censored.”

    Worth noting that many of them have made significant $$ promoting and selling “wonder drugs” like ivermectin, books, etc

    One of the doctors who just spoke on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial is affiliated with America’s Frontline Doctors, a rightwing political group that has sold access to millions worth of ivermectin while pushing the message that vaccines are dangerous

    Organizers insist this isn’t an anti-vax rally but an anti-mandates rally for vaccinated & unvaccinated to come together.

    All speakers have railed against vaccines, saying they cause “heart and brain inflammation,” infertility & have hospitalized thousands of children

    “COVID should never have been politicized” says Dr. Robert Malone, surrounded by “Fuck Joe Biden” and “Trump 2024” and “Fascist Fauci” flags, at a rally that included “Lock them up” chants and “A little cold? Communism’s colder so deal with it.”

    Some of the loudest cheers at today’s “Defeat the Mandates” rally have been for…Joe Rogan.

    After booing mainstream media for allegedly covering up vaccine deaths/injuries, a speaker just said “If they won’t speak to us, maybe Joe Rogan will” to cheers & applause.

    What a time

    Side note: so many Florida and DeSantis signs/flags at the “Defeat the Mandates” rally (mostly belonging to people who aren’t from there)

    Continue to be fascinated by how my home state has become such a symbol during the pandemic.

    (I mean…”Make America Florida”? [grimacing face]

    A lot of the speakers at today’s anti-vaccine mandate rally are participating on a panel hosted by Sen. Ron Johnson tomorrow. It’s billed as “COVID-19: A Second Opinion”

    Photos and video clips at the link. Everyone looked really cold, which warms my heart.

  172. says

    Ben Collins’ livethread:

    Robert Malone, the anti-vaccine doctor from Joe Rogan’s podcast, just opened his speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial by invoking Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech at the March on Washington, adding that antivaxx marchers in D.C. today are “standing on the shoulders of giants.”

    Uh oh. [video of Malone coughing during his speech]

    We are onto the original acoustic guitar music about the vaccine portion of the antimandate rally so I will be blending something while using a powersaw for the next five to ten minutes.

    At the antivaxx rally in DC, RFK Jr. says that in the future “none of us can run and none of us can hide” because of Bill Gates’ satellites and also 5G, unlike… the Holocaust.

    “Even in Hitler’s Germany, you could hide in the attic like Anne Frank did.”

    [Auschwitz Memorial: “Exploiting of the tragedy of people who suffered, were humiliated, tortured & murdered by the totalitarian regime of Nazi Germany – including children like Anne Frank – in a debate about vaccines & limitations during global pandemic is a sad symptom of moral & intellectual decay.”]

    All it took was a little bookending with far-right supervillains Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates, but this speaker got the antivaxxers to loudly and repeatedly cheer and agree with Louis Farrakhan.

    Part 2:

    Del Bigtree once again invoking the Holocaust at the antivaxx rally in D.C., using it to threaten journalists and Dr. Fauci.

    “Unlike the Nuremberg Trials that only tried those doctors that destroyed the lives of those human beings, we’re going to come after the press.”

    [Journalist Paul W. Gillespie: “Del Bigtree, I survived a murderous mass shooting in my newsroom. My head nearly taken off by a shotgun blast, missing by an inch. Five Capital Gazette family members were killed around me.

    Your thoughts/words are disgusting/inhuman.

    No one should have such hate in their heart”]

    [Also, propagandist and inciter of violence Julius Streicher was tried and executed at Nuremberg. Something they might want to keep in mind.]

    Most people are wildly underestimating how both large and rhetorically violent this anti-vaccine movement is.

    They are a gigantic, one-issue political movement that will eventually coalesce behind one candidate and make extreme demands before 2024.

    Buckle up.

  173. johnson catman says

    re SC @230: Every time someone like that dies from Covid, I think of the quote attributed to Bette Davis regarding the death of Joan Crawford.

  174. says

    johnson catman, :).

    Guardian – “Recovered and restored: the surrealist masterpiece thought destroyed after fascist raid”:

    A surrealist masterpiece believed destroyed when a fascist mob raided an arthouse cinema in 1930s Paris has made a triumphant return.

    The thugs vandalised the theatre, which was showing a subversive, anticlerical film by Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel and displaying avant-garde paintings, and took knives to artworks, including a futuristic landscape by Yves Tanguy, which was photographed with gaping scars and slashes in the aftermath of the attack.

    The painting, Fraud in the Garden, painted in 1930, was thought to have been lost or destroyed. Now it is back, its wounds healed by a restorer’s surgery. Its rediscovery has been confirmed by Professor Jennifer Mass, an American conservation scientist, who told the Observer that the painting had been presumed “lost to history”.

    She said: “We were able to do different types of imaging and analysis and demonstrate that it was the original work that had been put back together again.”

    On 3 December 1930, two right-wing extremist groups, the League of Patriots and the Anti-Semitic League, raided the newly renovated Studio 28 in Montmartre. They were protesting at “the immorality of this Bolshevist spectacle”; L’Âge d’Or (The Age of Gold) was a savage cinematice attack on the Catholic church and sexual hypocrisy, whose controversial scenes include a sequence based on the Marquis de Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom in which the chief sadist appears to be Jesus.

    The fascists attacked the Tanguy, along with other works by Dalí, Man Ray and Joan Miró displayed in the lobby. They smashed furniture and windows, tore up books, threw ink at the screen and ignited smoke bombs. They shouted: “We’ll show you that there are still Christians in France!” and “Death to Jews!” In the following days, pressure from rightwing newspapers led to the film being banned.

    Mass said that the “terror” suffered by the painting has been completely covered up by the restorer: “It’s only in an X-ray that it’s possible to see that the painting was slashed.”

    That raises a dilemma, a “tension between the painting as a historical document and an art historical document”, she said. “If you don’t study history, then you’re doomed to repeat it. It seems that we’re at a point in time when the far right might be interested in happily repeating some of our early 20th-century history and probably a lot of people don’t fully understand what fascism means at this moment.

    “As a historical document, I would like to see it in its unrestored state. But for art historical purposes, it’s understandable that people want to focus on Tanguy.”

    Antifa 1, Fa -1.

  175. says

    On the same day the Guardian reports on record cases (again!) in Russia they have articles about the regime continuing to threaten Ukraine. Like, at least make a pretense of trying to take care of your own people before waging more aggressive war, you kleptocratic thugs.

  176. KG says

    Meanwhile in the UK, while a prominent Tory backbench MP, William Wragg, is due to meet police to complain about Tory MPs being blackmailed to support Johnson, and an ex-Minister is complaining that she was sacked because she’s a Muslim*, attempts are being made to portray Johnson as heading the international support for Ukraine against Putin, despite the huge amounts of Russian oligarch money stashed in London, and until a couple of days ago, both the foreign minister and the defence minister being in Australia. I can hear Vladimir Vladimirovich laughing from here!

    *To be fair, two prominent ministers are men of Muslim background (Sajid Javid and Nahim Zahawi), and in general the current government includes more people of colour than any before it.

  177. KG says

    …Oh, and of course we’re still awaiting the outcome of the “independent” investigation into “Partygate” by Sue Gray, a senior civil servant who, in effect, works for Johnson.

  178. says

    KG @ #s 235 and 236, it seems like just a few short years ago that this was party/gate-gate:

    “Morning after: Boris Johnson recovers from Lebedev’s exotic Italian party”:

    A trip Boris Johnson made to Italy for a party held by a billionaire socialite ended with the then foreign secretary at an airport “looking like he had slept in his clothes”, struggling to walk in a straight line and telling other passengers he had had a heavy night, the Guardian has been told.

    Pictures of the now prime minister along with an account from a fellow traveller shed further light on Johnson’s weekend away at the home of the media owner Evgeny Lebedev, who is known for hosting uproarious parties for the rich and famous at his converted castle near Perugia.

    Johnson has refused to answer questions about the visit in April last year, including whether he flew to Italy against the advice of his officials and without the 24/7 security detail usually assigned to the foreign secretary.

    The pictures, taken at San Francesco d’Assisi airport on Sunday 29 April 2018, suggest he did go to Italy without a police escort. According to another passenger on the flight back to the UK, Johnson was on his own, seemingly without any luggage and very much the worse for wear….

    From your link:

    The release, promising ministers would be fanning out across Europe and a gear change across Whitehall, sought to give the impression of an animated leader gripping a crisis, some distance from the impression of a broken man unable to shed the travails of Downing Street parties in lockdown.

    Articles like the one @ #59 above seemed much more credulous.

  179. says

    RFE/RL – “NATO Sending Additional Ships, Warplanes To Eastern Europe”:

    NATO says it has put forces on standby and is sending extra ships and fighter jets to Eastern Europe amid a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine.

    “NATO will continue to take all necessary measures to protect and defend all Allies, including by reinforcing the eastern part of the Alliance. We will always respond to any deterioration of our security environment,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement.

    The alliance said that it’s beefing up its “deterrence” presence in the Baltic Sea area, as several members have offered troops and equipment.

    The statement pointed to decisions in recent days by Denmark to send a frigate and warplanes to the Baltics, Spain bolstering naval deployments, and the Netherlands putting a “ship and land-based units on standby” for its rapid response force.

    “France has expressed its readiness to send troops to Romania under NATO command,” the statement noted.

    The move came as European Union foreign ministers sought to present a display of resolve in support of Ukraine.

    “All members of the European Union are united. We are showing unprecedented unity about the situation in Ukraine, with the strong coordination with the U.S.,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters in Brussels.

  180. says

    Guardian – “Outrage as Newt Gingrich says Capitol attack investigators could be jailed”:

    Newt Gingrich, a former House speaker and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, stoked outrage on Sunday by predicting members of the House committee investigating the Capitol attack will be imprisoned if Republicans retake the chamber this year.

    One of two Republicans on the committee, Liz Cheney, said: “A former speaker of the House is threatening jail time for members of Congress who are investigating the violent attack on our Capitol and our constitution. This is what it looks like when the rule of law unravels.”

    Gingrich made his name with scorched-earth opposition to Bill Clinton in the 1990s and ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. He is now, among other pursuits, a prominent Trump supporter and rightwing gadfly.

    He made his prediction on Fox News, for which he is a contributor.

    Calling the members of the 6 January committee “wolves [who] are going to find out that they’re now sheep”, he said that if Republicans take Congress in November, “this is all going to come crashing down … they’re the ones who in fact, I think, face a real risk of jail for the kinds of laws they’re breaking”.

    Gingrich said: “You have, both with Attorney General [Merrick] Garland and this select committee on 6 January, people who have run amok … they’re running over people’s civil liberties.

    “And what they need to understand is on 4 January next year, you’re going to have a Republican majority in the House and a Republican majority in the Senate. And all these people who have been so tough, and so mean, and so nasty are going to be delivered subpoenas for every document, every conversation, every tweet, every email.”

    Gingrich also said the committee was “basically a lynch mob”.

    Another member of the committee, the Democrat Zoe Lofgren, told CNN Gingrich’s comments were “just bizarre. I think Newt has really lost it. You know, it leaves me speechless.”

    Alluding to Trump’s attempt to overturn his defeat in part through the Capitol putsch, Lofgren added: “I mean, unless he is assuming that the government does get overthrown and there’s no system of justice.”

    Most observers expect Republicans to at least retake the House in November and to turn their sights on Democrats, who impeached Trump twice, and Joe Biden.

    But some see a legal net closing on Trump himself….

    Also on Sunday, the chair of the House committee, the Mississippi Democrat Bennie Thompson, told CBS the panel has spoken to William Barr, Trump’s second attorney general….

  181. says

    DW – “German police say ‘several injured’ in shooting at university in Heidelberg”:

    Police in the southern German city of Heidelberg on Monday said they were carrying out a large-scale operation near the city’s university after several people were injured in a shooting.

    Authorities said a single shooter opened fire at a university lecture hall. Police said the suspected shooter is dead.

    There was no immediate information on how many people had been injured, only that several injuries had taken place.

  182. says

    Rolling Stone – “‘I’m a Full Anti-Vaxxer Now’: How the Conspiracists Are Winning Over Fresh Converts”:

    …The rally’s permit had predicted 20,000 attendees. A much smaller, mostly maskless crowd gathered on Sunday, filling in from the Lincoln Memorial only to the closest edge of the Reflecting Pool. Even so, those who made the trek to Washington on a bitter January afternoon proved this point: The anti-vax movement has migrated from the fringes to the mainstream, due to the many who joined its ranks since the pandemic began. And now, by drilling down on vaccine mandates, the long-standing movement is recruiting new allies.

    The crowd, as expected, was filled with the MAGA faithful, a core constituency that has railed against any and all government mandates since the pandemic’s inception….

    There were also many whose anti-vax activism predated the pandemic….

    But I met many more who are new to the movement, like Stefan, a teacher from Santa Cruz, California, who carried a “Teachers Against Vaccines” sign. He and his children were “traditionally vaccinated,” he says, but his faith in vaccines changed during the pandemic. He cites Kennedy’s latest book, The Real Anthony Fauci, as key to that conversion. “I’m a full anti-vaxxer now,” he says. Like Liz, he trusts Children’s Health Defense for information — a neighbor he trusts had turned him onto it. Most of the rest of his news comes from conspiracy-adjacent podcasts: The Joe Rogan Experience, No Agenda, and HighWire, whose host, Bigtree, spoke at the rally.

    As I spoke with people, I heard my fair share of conspiracy theories….

    But many others I spoke with didn’t linger on the outlandish claims. At the core of the responses I gathered was something more nuanced: An enduring fear of the virus, frustration with the governments’ response, and a feeling that they lack control over the choices they make for themselves and their families. In taking up mandates as their cause, the anti-vax movement had found a powerful conduit for those feelings — a circumstance that could make Sunday’s rally a potent breeding ground for misinformation.

    This reminds me of a post in my series from last year: “The Rightwing Agitator: Discontent and its Causes.”

  183. blf says

    me@216 on “black potatoes(? beets?)”: It turns out my initial belief the mysterious veggie was a (rare) black potato is correct. I checked at the organics shop today, and discovered they are Vitelotte noire (French), “a variety of traditional French potato[eh?†] which has the particularity of having purple skin and flesh. It is an old variety which is only grown by a few growers in France.” (More black than purple in my opinion, at least for the specimens I purchased.) Shorter English version.

    They “didn’t” work in that they fell apart and didn’t add anything obvious, albeit I messed-up the cooking, the dish was rather so-so, much to my annoyance. (The accompanying vin was quite good!)

    Having now confirmed they are potatoes I’ll have to try the remaining ones in other dishes, and pay more careful attention to the cooking.

      † Um… “traditional French potato”? All potatoes originated in the Americas, and this name is apparently only documented from the early-1800s…

  184. says

    Elijah Behnke, a Republican state representative in Wisconsin, apparently did not know he was being recorded last week when he chatted with a group of voters at the state Capitol. The group appeared to be made up pro-Trump Wisconsin activists, which apparently led the GOP legislator to be candid in his comments.

    That probably wasn’t a good idea.

    Behnke told the voters, for example, that he remains convinced that there was fraud in the 2020 election. Referring to illegal ballots, he said, “It could be 160,000, it could have been 16,000.”

    In reality, it was neither, but as The Wisconsin State Journal in Madison reported over the weekend, that’s not all the Republican said.

    A newly minted Republican lawmaker told a group of visitors to his state Capitol office that Republicans need to “cheat like the Democrats or bend the rules” to win upcoming elections, according to a hidden camera video posted online…. It’s not clear who shot the video, but it appears to have been taken near the end of Thursday’s Assembly session. One of the visitors appears to be discreetly taking the video and it does not appear Behnke knows he’s on camera.

    In case it’s not obvious, let’s go ahead and acknowledge reality: There was no meaningful voter fraud in the 2020 election; Democrats did not “cheat” to win; and no one gained power by “bending the rules.” The state representative’s assertions are plainly wrong.

    But stepping back, the larger concern is that too many Republicans may be thinking along these lines.

    For example, at a rally in Arizona last weekend, Donald Trump falsely insisted that Democrats “cheat” in every single cycle. […] He added, “I say if it’s good for [Democrats], why aren’t the Republicans doing the same kind of thing with the ballots?”

    […] According to an arrest affidavit in Colorado from last spring, for example, one Republican cast a ballot for his deceased wife because he believed “all these other guys are cheating.”

    […] some Republican voices are encouraging their allies to “cheat like the Democrats” and/or “doing the same kind of thing” as the supposed cheaters.

    Rank-and-file Republican voters should be wary of such advice: The existing system is quite effective in identifying and prosecuting those who try to game the system.


  185. says

    Hanna Liubakova:

    Cyber ​​Partisans confirmed that they attacked the servers of the Belarusian Railways.Their demands:
    – Release of 50 political prisoners in need of medical care
    – stop deploying Russian troops in #Belarus

    They added that safety systems weren’t affected & no accidents happened

  186. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 239.

    […] We learned last spring that Donald Trump recruited [Newt] Gingrich to help craft a “MAGA” policy agenda. We learned last week that House Republican leaders recently did the same thing. The Washington Post reported on Thursday:

    Senior House Republicans are putting together a list of policy pledges to run on in the 2022 elections, and they are consulting with the architect of one of their biggest historical midterm victories. Newt Gingrich, whose “Contract with America” in 1994 is linked with the GOP takeover of Congress in that midterm cycle, said he has been advising House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) on a set of policy items for Republicans to take to voters ahead of the November elections.

    In other words, the public learned on Thursday that Gingrich is helping shape a House GOP policy platform, and the public learned three days later that Gingrich wants to see elected officials investigating the Jan. 6 attack incarcerated.

    I’d like to see Gingrich’s rants treated as little more than annoying sideshows, but Republican officials aren’t making that easy.

    Postscript: John Gibbs, a Republican congressional candidate in Michigan, endorsed Gingrich’s rhetoric in a tweet overnight.


  187. says

    Followup to comments 239 and 246.

    Josh Marshall:

    […] Gingrich, both for his malevolence and longevity, is simply a fascinating figure. More than any other single person it is Gingrich who created the political world we now live in, even as his specific actions from the early ’90s can seem tame compared to the baseline of today. And yet here he is, thirty or by some measures forty years later, driving the predation onward, advancing the ball, testing the limits.

    Earlier in this segment he refers to people who have been “so tough and so mean and so nasty” – pure Trump. And then that line about wolves and sheep, pure Gingrich. Or is it pure Trump? There’s hardly a difference really.


  188. says


    #Belarus Belarusians continue showing their discontent by organising flash mobs against Lukashenko and also Putin. The Kremlin’s ruler lost the support of a considerable part of our population by helping Lukashenko stay in power. Now Belarusians put them both into one basket

    Photos at the link.

  189. blf says

    Sort-of related to SC@241, At another site I replied to what seemed a confused individual about Covid-19 in general and Omicron in particular. There was nothing in their original comment to suggest any anti-vaxx position or even hesitancy, just annoyance and confusion about (mostly) boosters.

    I’m still unpacking their reply, but it seems to basically amount to (parapharsing) The vaccines don’t prevent infection, sickness, hospitalisation, or death, therefore I am now proudly an anti-vaxxer! I’m still composing my (probable) reply in my head, along the lines of (simplified paraphrase) “[Seat belts] don’t prevent [injury], hospitalisation, or death, therefore I proudly [don’t use them]!” (A minor flaw here is seat belts are required by law but the vaccine isn’t (yet, anyways, almost everywhere), so a not-relevant “rebuttal” is easily imagined.) Whilst I’d like to work-in long Covid and other risks as well, it’s the sheer stoooopity of their “reasoning” which currently has me the most irked.

    Other to-the-point examples (or suggestions (other than statistics / graphs)) would be welcome. I realise they seem-to-want a wholly unrealistic ideal perfection, so essentially anything is another example (even their own “argument” — “[My argument] doesn’t [preclude disagreement], [convince everyone], or [contain any logic], therefore I proudly [maintain it must be correct]”), but less abstract counterexamples could be helpful.

  190. says

    Looks suspiciously like obstruction of justice and/or suborning witnesses:

    Ex-President Donald Trump’s team is collaborating with American Conservative Union (ACU) chair Matt Schlapp to decide which of Trump’s former staffers who’ve been subpoenaed by the House Jan. 6 committee deserve some financial help, according to CNN.

    The legal defense money comes from Schlapp’s ACU-run “First Amendment Fund.”

    The ACU chair told CNN that he’s “in communication” with Trump’s team about who will and won’t get help from his pool. The ex-president himself is “more than aware” of the fund and is actively encouraging people to tap into it, a source told CNN.

    In line with Trump’s demand for loyalty, Schlapp said the money won’t go to former Trump aides who agree with the Jan. 6 panel’s efforts to get to the bottom of the Capitol insurrection that the ex-president egged on.

    “We are certainly not going to assist anyone who agrees with the mission of the committee and is aiding and abetting the committee,” the ACU leader told CNN.

    However, whether or not a former aide gets the money isn’t necessarily incumbent upon whether he or she cooperates with the panel, according to Schlapp.

    “We do understand that when you are young and you have your whole career ahead of you, you have to take the right steps to defend yourself and sometimes that can include having your lawyers talk to the committee,” he told CNN.

    One of the recipients of the funds was former Trump campaign staffer Maggie Mulvaney, who is now a senior adviser for Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV), two sources told CNN.


  191. says

    Virginia’s New GOP AG Fires State University Attorney Helping Jan. 6 Panel

    Jason Miyares, Virginia’s newly inaugurated Republican attorney general, has fired the University of Virginia’s counsel, Tim Heaphy, who was on leave to assist the House Jan. 6 Select Committee in its investigation.

    Miyares’ spokesperson claimed Heaphy’s ouster was unrelated to his involvement with the panel. [LOL. Bullshit.] The spokesperson said the counsel was fired for giving legal advice based on “the philosophy of a university” and not the law.

    Heaphy will continue working with the committee, according to a spokesperson for the panel.

    Miyares also quickly took aim at abortion rights on Friday, withdrawing Virginia’s opposition to Mississippi’s abortion ban, which is currently being considered by the Supreme Court. With Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) support, the new state attorney general sent a letter to the high court urging it to overturn Roe v. Wade in the Mississippi case.

  192. says

    Followup to comments 239, 246 and 247.

    Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger fire back after Gingrich threatens Jan. 6 investigators with jail

    Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the Republicans on the select committee, responded. Cheney took a serious tone:

    A former Speaker of the House is threatening jail time for members of Congress who are investigating the violent January 6 attack on our Capitol and our Constitution.

    This is what it looks like when the rule of law unravels.

    […] Kinzinger went for mockery: [see

    But as ridiculous a figure as Gingrich is, as ridiculous as the threat may seem to be, this is where the Republican Party is: fiercely opposing any investigation of a coup attempt by its leader. That in itself is extraordinarily dangerous.

  193. says

    CNN – “Sarah Palin trial against New York Times delayed because of Palin’s positive Covid-19 test”:

    A judge on Monday delayed Sarah Palin’s defamation trial against The New York Times by 10 days to February 3, after the 2008 Republican U.S. vice presidential candidate and former Alaska governor tested positive for the coronavirus.

    The delay was announced by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan at a hearing.

    Rakoff first announced that Palin had tested positive earlier Monday morning. “She is, of course, unvaccinated,” Rakoff said then.

    Palin sued the paper in 2017 over an editorial that incorrectly linked the 2011 shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords to a map circulated by Palin’s political action committee that showed certain electoral districts under crosshairs. The Times corrected the error and apologized for it, and a judge initially dismissed the case. But a federal appeals court revived it and, as a result, a trial will now take place.

    People are pointing out that she was spotted having dinner the other night in a Manhattan restaurant, which is supposed to have a vaccine requirement.

  194. says

    HOPE not hate – “Tommy Robinson claims he is bankrupt and cannot pay the Syrian refugee he libelled. A HOPE not hate investigation has found a huge home he owns.”:

    In October 2018, a video went viral of Jamal Hijazi, a young Syrian refugee, being attacked in the playground of a school in Huddersfield. Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (AKA Tommy Robinson), the UK’s best known anti-Muslim extremist, subsequently libelled the teenager, claiming that he was “not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls in his school”. Jamal decided to defend his name and brought a libel case against Lennon.

    As costs mounted and shortly before the main trial began, Lennon declared bankruptcy in an attempt to avoid paying legal costs and damages should he lose the case. A few weeks earlier, he and his wife got divorced, with all their assets in her name.

    Stupidly, Lennon revealed that he had put everything he owns in other people’s names in a March 2020 video, stating: “They’re not getting paid ok. I don’t own an asset. I’m asset … I’m a straw man.”

    Lennon decided to represent himself, which turned out to be a poor decision as he lost the case and was ordered to pay Mr Hijazi £100,000 in libel damages on top of legal costs, which now look likely to be as much as £1,500,000.

    Lennon has claimed that he is unable to pay as he is bankrupt – and bankrupt people can’t pay. However, a six month HOPE not hate investigation has identified assets totalling as much as £3 million in property and businesses linked to Lennon, including an enormous house in Bedfordshire.

    All this will be in the 100-page dossier we will shortly be handing over to the Independent Insolvency Expert, who has taken over the investigation into Lennon’s bankruptcy. This Insolvency Expert, acting as Trustee of Bankruptcy, will have the power to examine bank and company records, interview people under oath and even – potentially – apply for search and arrest warrants.

    HOPE not hate has helped facilitate this action and worked with creditors to trigger a clause in the Bankruptcy Act which transfers the investigation from the Official Receiver’s office to Independent Insolvency Expert. We have also agreed to under-write the investigation and associated legal costs. We are doing this because this is the only way Jamal will get any justice for the hurt and upheaval Lennon has caused him. It will also – hopefully – be a costly reminder to Lennon that hate speech comes at a cost.

  195. says

    Covid in Idaho:

    The omicron variant is blazing through Idaho communities, with state health data showing the highest case and positive test numbers for the entire pandemic. Since last Friday, the state recorded the highest number of cases in a weeklong period since the pandemic began, according to Idaho Statesman research, with 16,422 added to the state dashboard. And even that figure is likely well below the actual number, because local public health districts are struggling with a backlog of more than 35,000 tests over the last two-week period. Another indicator, the test positivity rate, has gone off the charts. On Thursday, the Department of Health and Welfare had to adjust its online graph in order to fit in the new data point: a test positivity rate of 34.1% for the week of Jan. 9, the most recent data available.

    Prior to the omicron surge, the highest test positivity rate the state had seen was 19.1% for the week of Nov. 15, 2020. “Extremely high, unprecedented community spread,” Dr. Ted Epperly, president and CEO of the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho, told the Idaho Statesman by phone.

    Public health officials say a test positivity rate of 5% or less indicates that spread of a respiratory virus is under control. The state’s rate is seven times that. “It’s the most dangerous time we’ve had,” Epperly said. Even though most individuals are developing less severe COVID-19 symptoms with the omicron variant — especially vaccinated people getting breakthrough cases — the enhanced transmissibility trumps that, potentially causing the virus to seep into more places and infect vulnerable people. “It will find those people that are unvaccinated,” Epperly said. “It will find those people that are elderly, it will find those people that are immune-compromised … At its peak, it will leave in its wake a huger impact than did delta on hospitalizations and on death.” Epperly said he expects the statistics to exceed numbers seen during the delta surge last fall, which included the deadliest weeks of the pandemic. Hospitalizations and deaths lag case counts, meaning the effects of the current spike likely won’t be visible until mid- or late February, he said.

    While hospitals and primary care providers are being inundated by patients looking for tests and medical evaluation, more and more staff members are calling out sick, causing a “double whammy,” Epperly said. On Friday, 51 staff members at Primary Health Medical Group, a major provider in the Treasure Valley, were out for COVID-19-related reasons, said Dr. David Peterman, the group’s CEO. Since Jan. 3, more than one-sixth of the company’s employees have tested positive. Out of 21 in the Treasure Valley, six of Primary Health’s urgent care clinics were closed Friday. Since Jan. 14, Primary Health’s patient test positivity rate has been 42%. The provider’s clinics have identified more than 10,000 positive patients since Jan. 3, Peterman said.


    The percentage of people vaccinated is slowly creeping upwards, but way too slowly, and still way below nationwide averages:

    Vaccine doses administered in Idaho: 2,222,740, according to Health and Welfare. Of those, 905,409 people have been fully vaccinated, which accounts for 52.9% of Idahoans age 5 and older.

    Covid has hit my family, with two people in my nephew’s family hospitalized with Covid. They were both vaccinated and we are hoping for full recovery. In the meantime, one of them cannot walk or talk. It is scary and depressing.

    My furnace stopped working yesterday, on a Sunday. I had to pay weekend rates to get a repairman to come to my house, (an urgent matter since we have quite cold weather here). The main thing that bothered me: would I catch Covid from the repairman in my house? Everything is so risky.

    Oddly, on the local TV news, I see some, but not much coverage of how dire the situation is. Local newspapers do a better job of presenting reality as it is. I do not think the news is getting through to a large portion of the community.

  196. says

    SC @253: “People are pointing out that she was spotted having dinner the other night in a Manhattan restaurant, which is supposed to have a vaccine requirement.”

    Yeah, Palin is not just an anti-vaxxer, she is also an active spreader of Covid.

  197. blf says

    Today in France is the first day when the Health Pass, which was proof of vaccination (with booster as appropriate), recent infection, or very recent negative test, and required for entrance to restaurants, cafés, cinemas, etc., turned into a Vaccinated Pass, eliminating the negative test loophole (with a small set of reasonable exceptions), and also allows an ID-check to try and catch eejits using other another presumably-eejit’s Pass). There were some protests over the weekend by the usual mob (anti-vaxxers, facists, etc.), but they fizzled, perhaps 10,000 total nation-wide (if I remember the report I read correctly). There were no protests where I live (that I know of)… but back when the Health→Vaccinated change was first announced (about when Macron said the government wanted to “piss off” (seriously annoy) anti-vaxxers), there was what I think was a small demonstration locally. It seemed to have not been coordinated with the local council, teh eejits blocked traffic and it was quickly cleared by the police; at most a dozen nutcases (my count, all unmasked) and probably less (no violence or arrests that I am aware of).

    Anyways, today I visited multiple relevant places, and, quite possibly for the first time ever, every one asked to see to my Pass. (It should be noted the fines for not doing so have increased, and several people have said the local police(?) are now doing spot-checks, albeit I haven’t seen that (yet?) myself.)

  198. says

    So sorry to hear about your family members, Lynna. Hope they’re out and recovered soon.

    “It will find those people that are unvaccinated,” Epperly said. “It will find those people that are elderly, it will find those people that are immune-compromised … At its peak, it will leave in its wake a huger impact than did delta on hospitalizations and on death.”

    It’s a scary wave. It was frightening enough here where we have high vaccination rates, but I don’t think unvaccinated people out in your region know what’s coming. Please stay safe.

  199. says

    blf @ #249:

    I’m still unpacking their reply, but it seems to basically amount to (parapharsing) “The vaccines don’t prevent infection, sickness, hospitalisation, or death, therefore I am now proudly an anti-vaxxer!”

    I’ve seen this of late as well. I mean, they do. Demanding 100% efficacy from any safety/mitigation measure is a silly standard, but especially so when we’re talking about a free, extremely safe, readily available vaccine that’s already been given to billions of people and is highly effective at preventing death during a pandemic, FFS! Imagine thinking: “On one side of the scale is a contagious virus with a small but very real risk of causing my horrible death, and on the other a simple, safe intervention that can reduce the risk of my horrible death by like 90%; eh, I’ll take my chances with the virus and horrible death!” I imagine that to justify this inane thinking you have to be in denial about the reality of the situation on one side of the scale or the other.

    Two more points: First, the number of drugs and interventions unvaccinated people who have a bad case and need to be hospitalized receive is immense. None of them are as well tested, safe, cheap, or effective as the vaccine, and in any case you’re not in much of a position to be choosy or to examine the data at that point. Again, who would choose that possibility over just getting vaccinated?

    Also, I can’t believe how many things anti-vaxxers are happily willing to ingest that aren’t vaccines. I remember years ago on Orac’s blog Jay Gordon – Jenny McCarthy’s pediatrician at the time and part of the anti-vaccine crowd – was saying something about how he just thinks the safety of the MMR vaccine and others and their schedule hadn’t been sufficiently tested.

    (Was very pleasantly surprised just now to check and discover that, while still kind of wooish it seems, he’s very pro-COVID vaccine! He even retweeted this great rant from Mehdi Hasan.)

    It seemed like it would be hard to be a practicing physician if you held that attitude consistently, since the MMR vaccine has been so widely tested and used for so long, so I asked him if that was the standard to which he held all therapies. He never answered, but I have to assume it was…not.

    People who are vehemently anti-COVID-vaccine not only often take a number of illegal, legal, and prescription drugs but far-less-regulated supplements and the like. Almost none of this stuff is as extensively tested, as effective, or as safe as the COVID vaccine, and some of it is known to be useless or actively harmful. And, again, the COVID vaccine is highly effective at protecting people from death! From death!

    In short, I think this isn’t an argument anyone can make in good faith while accurately assessing the risks and benefits of different courses of action.

    (If this is helpful, great. If not, you don’t need to let me know. :))

  200. says

    SC @258:

    So sorry to hear about your family members, Lynna. Hope they’re out and recovered soon. […] It’s a scary wave. It was frightening enough here where we have high vaccination rates, but I don’t think unvaccinated people out in your region know what’s coming. Please stay safe.

    Thanks, SC. I found out today that my one family member that was so very sick actually had sepsis. Not sure if that was related to her Covid diagnosis or not. Sepsis can be treated with IV antibiotics. She is doing much better now and she is already back home. The other family member now seems to be completely recovered (fully vaccinated teenager). Yay!

    It is scary. I’m trying to stay safe, but with so many anti-vaxxers in my area, its not easy. Every interaction with another human being is quite risky.

  201. says

    This is good news: “Study finds high levels of omicron-fighting antibodies four months after Pfizer booster.”

    A new study shows high levels of coronavirus antibodies that fight the omicron variant four months after a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine, a positive sign for the durability of a booster shot’s effectiveness.

    The study from researchers at Pfizer, BioNTech and the University of Texas Medical Branch shows virus-fighting antibodies enduring four months after the third dose, helping answer the key question of how long protection from the booster shot lasts.

    Eric Topol, professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research, tweeted in response to the study that antibody levels were “unexpectedly still quite high” after four months, “which is great.”

    There was still some decline in antibody levels between one month and four months after the third dose, but the amount of decline against omicron was similar to the that against the original strain of the virus, Pfizer said.

    Pei-Yong Shi, one of the authors of the study at the University of Texas Medical Branch, told The Washington Post that the study “shows that at least up to four months, post-dose three, there is still substantial neutralizing activity against omicron.”

    The results add to a growing body of evidence on the importance of booster shots, which health officials are urging people to get in the face of a surge from the omicron variant.

    Last week, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found that a third shot was 90 percent effective against hospitalization […]


  202. says

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is warning that Russia may pursue a cyberattack against the U.S. as tensions escalate over Moscow’s buildup of forces near the border with Ukraine, according to multiple reports.

    The DHS bulletin, dated Sunday, outlined that Russia could launch such an attack if it perceived any U.S. or NATO response to be a threat to its own national security.

    “We assess that Russia would consider initiating a cyber attack against the Homeland if it perceived a US or NATO response to a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine threatened its long-term national security,” the agency said in the bulletin released to law enforcement partners, ABC News reported.

    Russia has a number of cyber tools it could use to attack the U.S., ranging from “low-level denials-of-service to destructive attacks targeting critical infrastructure.” […]


  203. says


    The six conservatives on the Supreme Court have clearly decided to rip the Band-Aid off all at once, decimating the last iota of the Supreme Court’s legitimacy in two insane, precedent-shredding years. The Court has already overruled Roe v. Wade on the DL, on the way to making it official in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. They’re hot to make concealed carry legal everywhere without a permit. And they’re preparing to greenlight outright bribery under the guise of campaign finance while kneecapping the ability of Americans whose civil rights are violated to recover damages from the federal government.

    It was already bad before this morning’s orders list came out, and now it’s worse because the Court agreed to hear two cases challenging affirmative action in college admissions: one at Harvard, which is private, and one at UNC Chapel Hill, which is public. Safe bet that the justices didn’t take those cases just to say that they affirm the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger holding that the use of race conscious admissions to achieve a diverse student body does not violate the Equal Protection clause.

    Grutter was upheld in a 2016 opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has now been replaced by Ol’ Kegstand. And with Justice Amy Coney Barrett in Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat, Justices John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito, who have always loathed affirmative action, clearly like their odds.

    But wait, there’s more! Because the Court also agreed to hear a challenge to the EPA’s ability to protect wetlands that would allow businesses to pollute the groundwater and developers to build more housing without intrusion by the pesky federal government. Of course the plaintiffs are just humble farmers seeking to do what they like on their own property. But there’s a reason the Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Home Builders are backing this challenge to the Clean Water Act, and it’s not because they’re worried about a half-acre plot outside Priest Lake, Idaho.

    The case joins West Virginia v. EPA, which challenges the federal government’s right to regulate power plant emissions. The original plaintiffs included West Virginia, North Dakota, the North American Coal Corporation, and Westmoreland Mining Holdings LLC, but the appeal is now being prosecuted by a consortium of states who think that fighting for your children’s right to breathe in COVID droplets and coal ash counts as virtue signaling.

    So, it’s looking to be a busy couple of terms for the Court. But don’t you worry, they’ll still find time to beat back any public health, voting rights, or abortion regulations the Biden administration comes up with. Time to stock up on morning after pills and masks — it’s going to be BAD.


  204. says

    Lynna @ #261, that’s good to hear! (Not “sepsis – great!” but you know what I mean. :))

    Have you been able to get your free N95s yet? They should have them this week at some stores and community centers.

  205. says

    Wonkette: “Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Walks Into A Bar. Being Asked To Leave Is The Holocaust.”

    On Sunday, just two days after thousands of the worst people in the United States convened on Washington to share their desire to force people to give birth against their will, thousands of the other worst people in the United States gathered to share their desire to keep the pandemic going forever and continue to overrun hospitals forever (or at least until they all die out), because not only do they not want to get vaccines, they want to force others to be around them.

    There was a lot of crossover.

    The anti-vaxxers carried signs reading “My Body My Choice,” an odd sentiment for people who do not feel that others should be allowed to choose not to be around them, on account of how they are potentially vectors for a deadly and frequently debilitating disease. They carried signs saying they didn’t want “Fauci Ouchies,” a particularly saccharine turn of phrase that makes them all sound like whiny four-year-olds. They sang along passionately with the Meatloaf song “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That),” clearly not appreciating the irony — or maybe it is their actual goal? — that Meatloaf, who was not vaxxed, died last week after becoming seriously ill with COVID.

    Speakers at the rally included doctors in white lab coats promoting Ivermectin, a very helpful medication for those with worms and not a very helpful medication for those with COVID-19. Because sure, all trustworthy doctors wear white lab coats all of the time, even when they are not working.

    […] As usual, there were a lot of people at the rally wearing yellow Stars of David, thinking they’re cute by cosplaying as Holocaust victims. […]

    To be clear, this is not simply disrespectful, it is outright Holocaust denialism. Pretending that what people who won’t get vaccines are “going through” is at all comparable to what Jewish people (and disabled people, and intellectuals, and others) went through during the Holocaust is another way of saying, “EH, the Holocaust wasn’t that bad.”

    Usually this is something they imply indirectly. But at least one person was more than happy to say the quiet part out loud — and that person was speaker Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who said:

    What we’re seeing today, what we’re seeing today, is what I call turnkey totalitarianism. They are putting in place all of these technological mechanisms for control we’ve never seen before. It’s been the ambition of every totalitarian state from the beginning of mankind to control every aspect of behavior, of conduct, of thought, and to obliterate dissent. None them have been able to do it. They didn’t have the technological capacity.

    Even in Hitler’s Germany, you could cross the Alps into Switzerland, you could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did. I visited in 1962 East Germany with my father, and met people who had climbed the wall and escaped, so it was possible — many died doing it, but it was possible.

    Today the mechanisms are being put in place that will make it so none of us can run and none of us can hide. Within five years we’re going to see 415,000 low orbit satellites. Bill Gates says his 65,000 satellites alone will be able to look at every square inch of the planet all day every day.

    They’re putting in 5G to harvest our data and control our behavior. Digital currency that will allow them to punish us from a distance and cut off our food supply. […]

    Apparently, Kennedy did not make it to the end of that book. Or the beginning, really, because Anne Frank did not live in Germany during the war, she lived in Amsterdam. Also, she died.

    88-year-old Holocaust survivor Lucy Lipiner was not amused. […]

    Everything else aside, isn’t the whole point of this rally that they are mad that they are being asked to stay home? It’s supposed to be about vaccine mandates. So far, there has not been a single “mandate” anywhere being applied to unvaccinated people staying home. The mandates are saying, “Hey, you can’t come to work or come in this restaurant if you are not vaccinated, because we don’t want this virus to spread.” No one is using satellites or 5G technology to track down anti-vaxxers in their homes. That’s not even a thing it is possible to do, and even if it were, it would be unnecessary, as anti-vaxxers tend to be very loud. If anything, technology companies have repeatedly asked anti-vaxxers, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., to stop making themselves so available to the public.

    It’s not anti-vaxxers who are being discriminated against, it’s the virus. People don’t want to be around them for the same reason they don’t want to sleep with people who have untreated syphilis or hang around tuberculosis wards or go into hot tubs with cuts on their legs. If someone asks you to cover your face when you sneeze, it’s not because they find you unattractive, it’s that they do not want your germs. […].


  206. says

    CNN – “US places up to 8,500 troops on alert for possible deployment to Eastern Europe amid Russia tensions”:

    As many as 8,500 US troops have been put on heightened alert for a possible deployment to Eastern Europe as Russian troops mass on Ukraine’s border, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday.

    US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued the prepare to deploy orders at the direction of President Joe Biden, the latest step the US has taken to prepare for a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine that officials have warned could be imminent.

    Kirby said that the “bulk of” US troops placed on heightened alert were intended to bolster NATO’s quick response force, but said Austin also wanted to be “postured to be ready for any other contingencies as well.”

    As of Monday afternoon, no final decision to deploy the troops had been made, Kirby emphasized.

    Earlier on Monday CNN reported the Biden administration was in in the final stages of identifying specific military units it wants to send to Eastern Europe, according to multiple US and defense officials.

    The news come amid US warnings that a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine could be imminent. The State Department on Sunday reduced staffing at the US embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, with the departure of nonessential staff and family members out of “an abundance of caution.”

    Biden will hold a secure video call with European leaders on Monday afternoon, which the White House said was part of the administration’s consultation and coordination with European allies in response to Russia’s military buildup.

    The goal of sending military reinforcements to Eastern Europe would be to provide deterrence and to reassure allies, and there’s been no suggestion US combat troops would deploy to Ukraine or take part in any combat roles. Kirby noted the US does have military advisers in Ukraine.

    The US sent two weapons shipments to Ukraine over the past week as part of recently directed security assistance to help bolster Ukraine’s military….

  207. says

    Good news: “House Republicans were so outraged by proxy voting, they literally made a federal case out of it. Fortunately, the Supreme Court didn’t care.”

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy spent much of 2021 making strange and unfortunate decisions, but his litigation against proxy voting has long been one of the most curious. As NBC News reported, as of this morning, the case is no more.

    The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to House rules allowing proxy voting, a system adopted during the Covid pandemic. McCarthy asked the high court last September to overturn the proxy voting rules, which allow lawmakers to cast votes through a colleague so that they don’t need to be physically present in the House chamber.

    […] the Covid-19 crisis started taking a severe national toll in 2020, House Democratic leaders came up with a temporary fix intended to limit lawmakers’ exposure. Under the plan, lawmakers who hoped to avoid the floor of the Capitol — because they were experiencing symptoms, because someone in their household was ill, etc. — could cast votes by proxy.

    It wasn’t complicated: Members could reach an agreement with like-minded colleagues, who in turn would agree to vote on their behalf. The system ensured that many representatives could participate in the legislative process during a pandemic without endangering themselves or their colleagues.

    For reasons I’ve never fully understood, Republicans were outraged — or at least pretended to be outraged in public. It led McCarthy and 20 other GOP House members to file a federal lawsuit in May 2020, challenging the constitutionality of proxy voting.

    A district court rejected the case, concluding that it wasn’t up to the judiciary to intervene in how the legislative branch established its own procedural rules. Last summer, a federal appeals court unanimously agreed and threw out the case. Even a Trump-appointed appellate judge concluded that the case deserved to be rejected.

    The House minority leader decided to keep fighting anyway, though as of this morning, the would-be House Speaker appears to have run out of options.

    […] Not only was the case misguided, it was also ironic: While GOP leaders cried foul when Democrats created the proxy system, many Republican members have since embraced the model with some enthusiasm.

    Indeed, though the system was intended to address the Covid-19 crisis, some Republicans haven’t just accepted the proxy rules, they’ve also abused them, voting by proxy while appearing at events such as the Conservative Political Action Conference. McCarthy and other GOP leaders — the ones who literally made a federal case out of the temporary model — said very little when their own members started taking advantage of the system.

    House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik went so far as to say at a press conference last week, “We believe in in-person voting. When Republicans win back the House, that’s what we are committed to.” What the New York congresswoman neglected to mention is that she recently voted by proxy in order to attend a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago. [face/palm, and LOL]

    As for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, when the proxy system was first created, it was designed to be temporary, with the Speaker in a position to extend the emergency authority every 45 days.

    Last month, Pelosi extended proxy voting through at least Feb. 13.


  208. says

    Rolling Stone – “Eric Clapton Confuses Public Health Messaging on Covid Vaccine With ‘Mass Formation Hypnosis’”:

    …What Clapton saw everywhere was what most people would describe a massive public health messaging campaign encouraging people to get a safe and effective vaccine. But to the musician, these nefarious tools of hypnosis were everywhere, from “little things on YouTube, which were like subliminal advertising” (they were probably actual advertisements about the safe and effective vaccine) and “the news stuff that was coming out of England… it was like completely one-way traffic about following orders and obedience” (probably just news reports about the safe and effective vaccine)….

  209. says

    Russian naval exercises near Irish coast ‘not welcome,’ official says

    Ireland’s foreign affairs minister on Sunday said planned Russian naval exercises close to his country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) are “not welcome.”

    “In light of the current political and security environment in Europe, the Department of Foreign Affairs has raised a number of concerns with the Russian authorities in respect of these exercises,” Minister Simon Coveney said in a statement.

    Russian naval exercises are expected to begin in early February near Ireland’s EEZ, roughly 150 miles off of the country’s southwest coast, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs. While the area in question is part of Ireland’s EEZ, it is not part of its territorial waters.

    Despite the concerns, Coveney acknowledged that states are entitled to carry out naval exercises in other states’ EEZs under international law and said Ireland had been notified of the exercises through standard procedures.

    The Irish official is set to meet with fellow European Union foreign ministers in Brussels on Tuesday. […] “I will reiterate our full support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and will call again on Russia to de-escalate tensions and engage constructively in dialogue,” said Coveney.

    Under the United Nations’ Law of the Sea Convention, the high seas are open to all states. The treaty states that “these freedoms shall be exercised by all States with due regard for the interests of other States in their exercise of the freedom of the high seas.”

    “I’ve made it clear to the Russian ambassador in Ireland that it’s not welcome,” Coveney told reporters on Monday, according to CNN. “This isn’t the time to increase military activity and tension in the context of what’s happening with and in Ukraine at the moment.”

    He added, “The fact that they’re choosing to do it on the western borders, if you like, off the EU, off the Irish coast, is something that, in our view is simply not welcome and not wanted right now, particularly in the coming weeks.” […]

  210. blf says

    On masks (inspired by SC@265’s N95s), when I went and got boosted the clinician said something to the effect I was almost the only person they’d seen who was double-masked. (I’ve not noticed anyone else double-masked, neither now (Omicron) nor earlier (Delta).)

    According to the track-and-trace app, France has now reached just over 50% fully-vaccinated with booster — I presume the new Vaccinated Pass (see @257) has something to do with that, albeit eyeballing the data, there’s no sharp uptick (yet?) like there famously was for the original Health Pass — with something like 93% of all adults (and teens?) (fully?-)vaccinated, one of, and possibly the, highest rate of (larger) EU countries. The overall (full?-)vaccination is just over 78%, France is having difficulties in getting children vaccinated, ‘Gentle’ France lags behind eager EU neighbours in race to vaccinate kids as Omicron rages:

    As France’s bid to vaccinate 5- to 11-year-olds against Covid-19 hits the one-month mark, progress remains ploddingly slow, light years behind many EU neighbours. […]
    As of Wednesday [19th January], according to the Santé Publique France health authority, 1.8 percent of France’s population of some 5.8 million eligible 5- to 11-year-olds had received a first dose and 0.4 percent were completely vaccinated. […]

    Most of France’s closest European Union neighbours, meanwhile, are inoculating kids against Covid-19 at pace. Twenty-six percent of Italy’s 3.6 million 5- to 11-year-olds have received a dose and 6.45 percent two doses. Spain had given one dose to 45 percent of its 3.4 million children by Tuesday[, etc. …]

    [… an analysis of what’s gone wrong (slow to approve, started during the holidays, very little messaging, Omicron on the attack yet schools reopened on schedule, etc., etc., etc. …]

    [In addition, there are quacks involved in presumably responsible positions: A] vocal crowd of health and education professionals have consistently slammed the influential French Society of Paediatrics (SFP) and its professor president, Christèle Gras-Le Guen. In breaking with the prevailing wisdom of its counterparts abroad and downplaying Covid-19 transmission in kids, the SFP has skewed the risk-benefit analysis in the public imagination, they suggest.

    As recently as November, Gras-Le Guen told the regional daily Ouest-France, We haven’t stopped saying it for 18 months: Under-12s are little affected by Covid-19 infection and non-contagious. She added that under[-]12s wearing a mask at school makes no sense. I’ll say it again: the contagion doesn’t happen at school.

    To the dismay of experts, the SFP has openly had the ear of Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, who long echoed SFP doctrine that kids are primarily infected outside school and whom specialists charge with shirking his responsibility to mitigate viral spread in the classroom.


    When the Scientific Council this week explicitly validated the role back-to-school played in the 460,000 positive cases registered nationally on Tuesday alone, some of the pandemic-wearied doctors couldn’t hide their tongue-in-cheek glee.

    “The rise appears to be explained by a resurgence of the epidemic in those under 15 and 30–44 year-olds, suggesting an important back-to-school effect: the virus is circulating intensely among the youngest and then spreads to the parents,” the panel said.

    To which Dr Christian Lehmann, a member of the Du Côté de la Science (On the Side of Science) policy watchdog group tweeted, “Hello French Society of Paediatrics, you’re going to laugh, but we have something to show you….”

    [… and the usual nutcases, anti-vaxxers, facists, etc., chime in — getting more attention than perhaps usual since (some of) them are politicians (e.g., Le Pen and Zemmour) and this is a presidential election year…]

  211. says

    Oh, FFS.

    More negative outcomes related to Tucker Carlson’s lies:

    A House Democrat asserted Monday that people have called his office claiming to be Fox News viewers and telling him the U.S. should be “siding with Russia” as tensions between Russia and Ukraine intensify.

    “My office is now getting calls from folks who say they watch Tucker Carlson and are upset that we’re not siding with Russia in its threats to invade Ukraine, and who want me to support Russia’s ‘reasonable’ positions,” Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) said in a tweet on Monday afternoon.

    […] Tensions between the U.S. and Russia have increased in recent weeks as Russia has amassed at least 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s border, leading to fears of a possible invasion.

    President Biden said last week if Russia were to invade Ukraine, as it did in 2014, such an action would be met with swift and severe pushback from the United States.

    The Pentagon said Monday it was putting 8,500 U.S. troops on higher alert over the ongoing tensions in Eastern Europe, while NATO leaders have also vowed a united response to Russian aggression.

    Carlson, Fox’s top-rated host, has argued there is little for the United States to gain by getting involved in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

    In an op-ed published on over the weekend, Carlson accused “neocons in Washington” of “recklessly stoking conflict” between Russia and Ukraine for years and warning the United States could find itself in an all-out war with Russia if tensions are not deescalated.

    “We’re really going to fight a war over some corrupt Eastern European country that is strategically irrelevant to us? With everything else that’s going on right now in our own country?” Carlson wrote. “No normal person would ever want to do anything like that. How can it really happen?” […]


  212. says

    Thread from Carole Cadwalladr:

    I have been through a trauma. And I need to speak publicly about it. About why this lawsuit sent me to such a dark place. And why the pursuit of individuals outside their news orgs is barbaric [sic], cruel & a threat to all journalism

    This is where it began. Nov 2017 with this video…

  213. blf says

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar fires back at John Stockton over wild COVID-19 vaccine conspiracy theories (minor formatting and other tweaks not marked):

    Former Utah Jazz [player] and NBA Hall Of Famer John Stockton made headlines when he wildly claimed during a recent interview that athletes who have received the COVID-19 vaccine are dying right on the playing area while in games. […]

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar didn’t hold back[, saying] nothing that Stockton is saying “makes sense”:

    I think statements like that make the public look upon athletes as basically dumb jocks for trying to explain away something that is obviously a pandemic and the best way to fight pandemics is through vaccination and testing … It doesn’t make sense what he’s saying.

    [Stockon] has made it clear that he doesn’t adhere to mask mandates, COVID-19 testing or the vaccine, though these recent comments are his most outlandish.

    If John Stockton were coming from a place of fact or reason with his COVID-19 vaccine conspiracies, then it would be fair to consider his points. However, with nothing to prove the validity of his claims, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is right to fire back at the former Jazz star.

    Abdul-Jabbar used to write a monthly-or-so column in The Grauniad, which was very much worth reading (he’s an excellent writer, and as per this latest incidence, very sensible).

  214. blf says

    Despite the pandemic, the world is on the verge of exterminating wild polio, becoming the third virus / disease to be deliberately driven to extinction in the wild, joining smallpox and rinderpest (a cattle disease), Pakistan launches anti-polio drive as Covid-19 cases rise:

    Pakistani authorities on Monday launched a nationwide anti-polio campaign even as coronavirus infections surge.

    About 150,000 health workers are taking part in the five-day, anti-polio drive to inoculate 22.4 million children under age 5, according to a statement issued by Shahzad Beg, the coordinator for the polio program. The previous campaign took place weeks ago when Pakistan witnessed a decline in Covid-19 cases.

    Authorities hope the latest campaign will help make Pakistan a polio-free nation.

    Last year, Pakistan reported only one polio case from the country’s southwestern Baluchistan province. Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries in the world where polio remains endemic […]

    Africa was declared free of (wild) polio last year (2020), albeit unfortunately there are cases of vaccine-derived polio in parts of Africa, and also Yeman (at least).

  215. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The James Webb Space Telescope fired small thrusters to insert itself into orbit around the L2 point, completing its journey to its work space. Further passive cooling is needed for the mirrors and detectors to reach operating temps so that alignment of the mirrors can occur. That may start as early as next week.

  216. says

    European Gymnastics:

    Sad news reaches us from Hungary: Szilveszter Csollány, former European, World and Olympic Champion on rings, passed away aged 51. Our sincere condolences to the Hungarian Gymnastics community and Szilveszter’s family and friends

    He didn’t “pass away.” It’s not the time for euphemisms. He spent weeks on a ventilator and was killed by COVID and disinformation.

  217. says

    The person who posted about Csollány’s death at HCA gave this link to his gold medal performance in Sydney in 2000. And now he’s dead. I hope people send this to Gwyneth Paltbro and his millions of fans. Or maybe this guy wasn’t fit enough for their standards…

  218. says

    The Signorile Report – “Florida GOP forcing LGBTQ students into the closet”:

    Virginia Republicans used “critical race theory” — an academic legal term and not something even taught in elementary schools — in the governor’s race in 2021 while most media didn’t expose it as white supremacist dog-whistling. Now Florida Republicans are expanding the “education” push to attack queer people.

    This time the very Republicans who are obsessively whining about “cancel culture” want to cancel discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, and thus want to cancel LGBTQ kids.

    Florida House Bill 1557 made it out of committee in the Florida Legislature, thinly disguised as allowing parents to have more say in what their children are being taught about. But it would outright ban specific discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity. Its proponents say it’s not meant to stop the teaching of history or force LGBTQ students to be invisible — but that is precisely what it is intended to do.

    “A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students,” House Bill 1557 and it’s identical companion, Senate Bill 183, state.

    The House bill’s sponsor, Rep. Joe Harding, said, “This bill is about defending the most awesome responsibility a person can have: being a parent. That job can only be given to you by above.”

    In other words, public schools should simply erase whole categories of people if some parents don’t like their children being taught about them.

    That is not education. It’s indoctrination — into hate. And this is the same kind of culture war issue promoted as letting parents have a say in “education” that Glenn Youngkin pushed in Virginia but which was a racist dog whistle. Democrats didn’t take it seriously enough, while the media didn’t expose it. Which is why everyone must be attention to Florida.

    What about students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender talking about their own lives? What about students with gay and lesbian parents? Do they just not talk about their two moms or their two dads?

    And how about history?

    The goal here is to keep kids in the closet, fearful, and to allow parents to push conversion therapy programs.

    Everything Harding says seems to betray that. He told Florida Politics that the schools are “infringing on the fundamental right to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children.”

    “What this bill allows for is the parents to be able to pursue the school to, No. 1, get information from the school of what is being talked to and told to the child and also damages relating to how that has affected that child,” he said.

    And if the parents are anti-LGBTQ, pushing bogus science and extremist religious views and forcing conversion therapy, they should be the ultimate authority, not teachers and science….

    This is the reason the US is the only country in the UN not to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Several years ago, Joe Biden puked up some nonsense about how it was about raising other countries to US standards. It’s about placating these authoritarians who think parents own their children (for Evangelicals, especially girls) and who endlessly foment idiotic moral panics about children in order to oppress certain groups and distract from the real structures of power.

  219. says

    NBC News:

    Americans should consider leaving Ukraine ‘now,’ nonemergency diplomatic employees were authorized to depart, and eligible family members were ordered to evacuate Sunday amid Russia’s continued military presence along the country’s border, the U.S. State Department said.

  220. says

    New York Times:

    A federal judge handed a crucial free-speech victory to six University of Florida professors Friday, ordering the university to stop enforcing a policy that had barred them from giving expert testimony in lawsuits against the state.

    Good news.

  221. says

    New York Times:

    A study that provided poor mothers with cash stipends for the first year of their children’s lives appears to have changed the babies’ brain activity in ways associated with stronger cognitive development, a finding with potential implications for safety net policy.

  222. says

    Georgia County Judges Grant DA Request For Special Grand Jury In Trump Election Steal Probe

    A request by Georgia’s Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis for a special grand jury in her election interference probe into former President Trump was granted by a panel of county judges on Monday.

    In the order, Christopher Brasher, chief judge of the Superior Court of Fulton County, wrote that Willis’ request issued last week was considered and approved by a majority of the judges on the court.

    Brasher wrote the special grand jury is scheduled to commence starting on May 2 and can continue to do so for a period of time that does “not to exceed 12 months.”

    “The special purpose grand jury shall be authorized to investigate any and all facts and circumstances relating directly or indirectly to alleged violations of the laws of the State of Georgia,” Brasher wrote.

    Willis’ request was granted a week after she told Brasher in a letter that she needed assistance with her election interference investigation from a special grand jury because a “significant number of witnesses and prospective witnesses have refused to cooperate with the investigation absent a subpoena requiring their testimony,” she wrote.

    Willis initially launched her investigation nearly a year ago. Willis’ probe zeroes in on Trump’s fruitless efforts to pressure Georgia officials into helping him reverse the state’s 2020 election results. The probe is centered on Trump’s infamous call with Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger in early January last year, in which the then-President demanded that Raffensperger “find” 11,780 nonexistent votes to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state.

    Willis is also seeking information regarding the involvement of Trump allies in the effort to steal votes in the battleground state. In Nov. 2021, Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called Raffensperger and allegedly asked him about tossing all mail-in ballots from counties with significant amounts of signature mismatch.

    Willis has also signaled that prosecutors are looking into the sudden departure of Atlanta-based U.S. Attorney Byung “BJay” Pak in early January last year, which TPM first reported. Additionally, prosecutors are examining election fraud falsehoods issued by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani during a hearing before the Georgia Senate Judiciary Committee a month after the 2020 presidential election.

    Good news.

  223. says

    Trump Jr’s Halting and Slurred Speech in Bizarre Video Attacking Biden is Painful to Watch

    The new year has turned out to be an especially difficult time for Donald Trump’s crime family. They have been suffering through a series of personal and legal setbacks. First, his favorite propaganda outlet lost it’s biggest distributor when DirecTV announced that they would cease to carry the One America News Network. But that was just the start.

    Trump’s legal woes were even more catastrophic. In an 8-1 ruling the Supreme Court rejected his efforts to suppress his White House records. The New York Attorney General took action to force him to testify in the real estate and tax fraud case. A Georgia district attorney requested a special grand jury to probe his efforts to intimidate state officials to overturn their election results. A bunch of his StormTrumpers (aka Oath Keepers) were indicted for seditious conspiracy for their roles in the January 6th insurrection in Washington, D.C. And most recently, his daughter Ivanka has been asked to come before the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection.

    With those burdens weighing on Daddy Trump, his sputtering spawn, Don Jr, took to Facebook to vent incoherently about President Biden. Unfortunately for him, the video he posted portrayed him in the most unflattering light imaginable. It was a pathetic mash of irrational ramblings that raised questions as to his sobriety and/or sanity. His speech was unnaturally halting, and he slurred his words like a besotted wretch. One has to wonder not just what caused this sickly behavior, but also what could have possessed him to post it (full video here, if you can stomach it) […]

    “Can’t put Joe Biden in the same room with someone. He might let one rip. Guys, Joe Biden is what stands between us and a nuclear capable China? Joe Biden is the guy they’re gonna call at three in the morning if there’s a serious crisis with Russia?”

    See also

    Exhibit A on why Trump’s lawyers don’t want Don Jr. testifying before the NY AG.

    So Trump led off with a fart joke? Which was followed by a vague rhetorical question that sought to malign Biden’s ability to respond to a crisis. That’s pretty bold coming from someone who couldn’t complete a comprehensible sentence. Never mind that Biden has demonstrated both sound judgment and strength as tensions between Russian and Ukraine have escalated. Which is in sharp contrast to the reckless and irresponsible reactions posited by Republicans and Fox News pundits.

    It seems obvious that Fox and the Trumpian GOP would like to see a war break out that would draw the U.S. into the battle. They are virtually goading Vladimir Putin into invading Ukraine by sending him the message that America under Biden is too weak to respond. It is a decidedly anti-American position that is dangerous, as well as insulting to our armed forces. But Fox News has been openly taking Putin’s side all along. And so has Donald Trump, who tweeted Monday morning that…

    “What’s happening with Russia and Ukraine would never have happened under the Trump Administration. Not even a possibility!”

    Of course not. Trump was Putin’s puppet. Why would Putin do anything to upset his mastery over the U.S. leader that was in his pocket? Trump likes to puff up his chest and claim to be a pillar of strength. The truth is, as his own communications director said, he was just putting on a show for Putin and would never challenge him.

    To the contrary, Trump explicitly favored Putin, while deliberately sabotaging Biden. And now his progeny is delivering similar assaults on Biden for Putin’s pleasure. But Junior’s besotted demeanor doesn’t help him get his traitorous message out.

  224. says

    Parents Struggle to Explain to Children Who Sarah Palin Was

    As Sarah Palin makes headlines after an absence of many years, American parents are struggling to explain to their children who the former politician was.

    Harland Dorrinson, a pediatric psychologist, said that children may hear upsetting information about Palin at school and then seek reassurance from their parents.

    “Although Sarah Palin is largely forgotten, parents shouldn’t pretend that she never existed,” Dorrinson said. “Talking about Sarah Palin is one of those difficult conversations parents need to have with their kids.”

    “Children are learning that Sarah Palin was on the national ticket of a major political party that deemed her fit to assume the Presidency,” the psychologist said. “It’s only natural for kids to wonder, ‘How could this have happened?’ ”

    Dorrinson advises parents to watch YouTube clips of Palin along with their kids, rather than let children discover them on their own, “which could be upsetting.”

    “Watching the wrong Sarah Palin clip could be traumatic for children,” he said. “You don’t want them stumbling onto the Katie Couric interview.”

    New Yorker link

  225. raven says

    Covid patient dies at a hospital weeks after his wife sued another to keep him on a ventilator
    Scott Quiner’s case drew wide attention this month after his wife filed a court petition to stop a Minnesota hospital from removing the ventilator
    By Brittany Shammas, Paulina Firozi and Hannah Knowles Washington Post 01/23/2022

    Scott Quiner, a Minnesota man whose wife sued over a hospital’s plan to take him off a ventilator months after he was diagnosed with covid-19, died Saturday. He was 55.

    Quiner died at the Houston hospital where he was flown for care during the legal battle, according to Marjorie Holsten, an attorney for the family. He remained on a ventilator at the time, Holsten said, but she declined to identify the facility or provide additional details on the circumstances of his death.

    The family’s ordeal drew national attention this month as surging coronavirus cases overwhelmed hospitals across the United States. A GoFundMe in support of Quiner garnered tens of thousands of dollars in donations, and his wife told their story in media appearances.

    Doctors planned to take a covid patient off a ventilator. With 48 hours’ notice, his wife got a judge to stop them.

    “On behalf of the family of Scott Quiner, I would like to thank the public for the outpouring of love and support during this difficult time,” Holsten said in an email to The Washington Post. “The family now requests privacy while they grieve the loss of their beloved husband and father.”

    Quiner was not vaccinated when he contracted the virus on Oct. 30, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the GoFundMe page.
    IMore than two months passed. Then, on Jan. 11, doctors told Quiner’s wife, Anne, that they wanted to take him off the ventilator, she said in court records. She said she strongly objected as his medical representative.

    A day later, she filed a petition in state court seeking a temporary restraining order to stop doctors from removing the ventilator. A judge granted her request on Jan. 13, shortly before the machine was to be turned off, according to court documents.

    Another dead antivaxxer.
    What makes this one noteworthy is that his wife is claiming that Mercy Hospital in Minnesota murdered him.
    They wanted to take him off the vent after two months, so she got a court order and transferred him to Texas, where he promptly died.

    She has called the hospital murderers and threatened them. Mercy hospital has since received a huge number of threats from the usual right wingnut antivaxxers.

    The hospital is prohibited by HIPAA from saying anything but it is likely that this patient was dying, was never getting off the vent, and the docs needed it because the hospital is currently overrun with…antivaxxer Covid-19 virus patients.

  226. says

    Re raven’s #287 – Yahoo! News, a few days ago – “Wife who fought Mercy Hospital over ventilator says COVID-positive husband showing improvement in Texas”:

    The Buffalo, Minn., COVID-19 patient, whose wife went to court to prevent an Allina Health hospital from taking him off a ventilator, is showing signs of improvement in a Houston hospital, his wife says. Scott Quiner, tested positive in late October. His wife has said he was unvaccinated against the viral respiratory disease.

    Anne Quiner has been taking her frustrations with her husband’s care at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids to “the court of public opinion,” her lawyer Marjorie Holsten said to the conservative talk show host Glenn Beck on Thursday.

    “What we are showing the world is that Scott was near death because of the protocols used in that hospital,” Holsten said. “But now he is recovering. He is getting better. We’re not planning a funeral. We’re planning for his release at some point.”

    Anne Quiner said there has been progress, but it has been slow. Her 55-year-old husband’s brain function appears normal, but his lungs have been damaged and scarred. He remains on a ventilator.

    “He still is very critically ill, but they are saying they’re going to try everything they can do to save his life,” Anne Quiner said on the conservative Stew Peters podcast on Red Voice Media….

    Allina Health has declined a request for comment. Previously, the Minneapolis health care system, which has 12 hospitals and 90 clinics in Minnesota and Wisconsin, said it has every confidence in its medical professionals, that it cannot talk about Quiner’s specific case and that it continues “to wish the patient and family well.”

    As time went on, Quiner’s oxygen levels were not improving. He was put on a ventilator and transferred to the intensive care unit at Mercy Hospital on Nov. 6. He lost 30 pounds during his stay, Anne Quiner said, going from 210 pounds to 180.

    According to court documents, Mercy intended to turn off her husband’s ventilator at noon Jan. 13. Anne Quiner, who believed the hospital was not exploring other treatment options, was granted a restraining order by an Anoka County District Court judge and had him transferred to a Houston hospital. She has asked that the hospital not be named.

    Mercy’s response at the time, via the Fredrikson & Byron Law firm, was that Anne Quiner’s “position is not supported by medical science or Minnesota law, and as a result, Mercy will ask the court to issue an order that Mercy has the authority to discontinue Mr. Quiner’s ventilator and proceed with his medical care plan.”

    Anne Quiner spoke of her frustrations with Mercy Hospital’s staff, telling how she and a pastor were removed from the hospital chapel by security as they prayed for her husband. She said she felt the staff had abandoned her husband.

    “They were telling my family that I was being very difficult, and they were pushing them to get me to either put him in comfort care or sign the DNR (do not resuscitate),” she said on Beck’s show.

    Her experience in Texas has been very different, she told Peters, who has dismissed the safety of coronavirus vaccines and given a platform to pandemic conspiracy theories.

    “I feel like he went from the worst doctors to the absolute best doctors in the entire United States,” she said.

    Hospitals in Minnesota, like others around the United States, have been overwhelmed by a combination of patients with COVID-19 — mostly unvaccinated — and those with other conditions. In the Twin Cities, about 1 percent of hospital intensive care beds were available late this week.

    I don’t think I’ve been as angry during this pandemic as I have over the past two weeks. When my father was dying, I was in denial, and grasped at every conceivable explanation for his weight loss and declining energy that offered a scintilla of hope. Opportunists like Peters exploit this pain and desperation. They give people false explanations and targets for their rage and, in some cases, violence.

  227. says

    Marjorie Holsten, Friday, on Glenn Beck: “What we are showing the world is that Scott was near death because of the protocols used in that hospital. But now he is recovering. He is getting better. We’re not planning a funeral. We’re planning for his release at some point.”

    Marjorie Holsten, Monday: “On behalf of the family of Scott Quiner, I would like to thank the public for the outpouring of love and support during this difficult time. The family now requests privacy while they grieve the loss of their beloved husband and father.”

    Fuck right off.

  228. beholder says

    @280 SC

    This is the reason the US is the only country in the UN not to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    That particular bit of American exceptionalism is about the death penalty, isn’t it? Specifically a treaty that would proscribe the state’s privilege to put children to death, which would further undermine the legitimacy of the death penalty and America knows it.

  229. says

    beholder @ #290,

    That has historically been part of it (though it’s no longer allowed in the US), as the extreme end of a spectrum of violence people wish to preserve their “God-given right” to use against children – in homes, schools, prisons, and on and on. It’s also about maintaining tight parental control over kids’ lives, including when it comes to gender and sexuality, as illustrated by this Florida bill. It’s particularly driven by the religious right.

    (This notion of total parental and religious rights over children works in tandem with claims that US sovereignty means the country can’t be subject to any international agreements or conventions other than those it dictates to others.)

  230. says

    Yahoo! – “Bolsonaro’s far-right guru dead at 74 in United States”:

    Brazilian Conservative ideologue Olavo de Carvalho, who was President Jair Bolsonaro’s political guru, died on Monday night at a hospital in Richmond, Virginia, in the United States, his family said on his social media accounts. He was 74.

    The Folha de S. Paulo newspaper reported that he was diagnosed with COVID-19 on January 15, citing a group of his followers on social media.

    Carvalho was a self-promoted philosopher, author and anti-Communist political pundit who believed George Soros, Facebook and China are all part of a globalist conspiracy.

    He moved to the United States in 2005 after the leftist Workers Party won the presidency, and he gave online philosophy classes to his followers in Brazil, championing individual rights and Christianity.

    Carvalho questioned global warming, played down the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic and, like Bolsonaro, was a vaccine-skeptic, which got him into trouble with social media platforms for spreading fake news. PayPal blocked his account used to received donation from followers and payment for his courses.

    His combative attacks on “cultural Marxism” and the growth of the state made him an icon of the Conservative movement that swept Bolsonaro to power in 2018.

    “Olavo was a giant in the fight for freedom and a beacon for millions of Brazilians,” Bolsonaro posted on Twitter, calling him “one of the greatest thinkers in our country’s history.”

    In recent months, as Bolsonaro made concessions to traditional centrist politicians to block impeachment attempts, Carvalho became critical of his follower, saying he had failed in the fight against Communism.

    A pinned tweet on Carvalho’s social media account encapsulated his political views: “Capitalism is the godfather and protector of communism. The war is not between capitalism and communism, it is between CHRISTIANITY and communism.”

  231. says

    CBC – “Conservative MPs accuse Trudeau of pushing ‘vaccine vendetta’ as convoy protest heads to Ottawa”:

    Conservative MPs fiercely opposed to the federal government’s new vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers have slammed what they call Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “vaccine vendetta,” saying that the policy will disrupt the country’s supply chains.

    Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, the party’s finance critic, claimed the government’s vaccine policy is “emptying grocery shelves and ballooning food prices,” leaving some Canadians to “go hungry.”

    Garnett Genuis, a Conservative MP from Alberta, said he stands with unvaccinated truckers who plan on protesting the mandate. “Time to end Justin Trudeau’s nonsensical vaccine vendetta,” he said in a recent social media post.

    The party’s transport critic, MP Melissa Lantsman, urged supporters to sign a petition opposing new vaccine requirements. She claimed the policy would result in the loss of thousands of jobs and “empty shelves in Canadian retail sectors.”

    Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, who has opposed vaccine mandates for federal public servants and the travelling public, said today that Trudeau is intent on “dividing Canadians” by pushing shots on truckers.

    The vaccine policy stems from a Jan. 13 decision by the federal government to extend most of the border policies that already apply to the general public to essential workers — including truckers, who up to now have been freely crossing the Canada-U.S. border.

    As of last week, all Canadian truckers must show they’ve had two doses of an mRNA vaccine — or one dose of a Johnson & Johnson shot — if they want to avoid stringent testing requirements and a lengthy quarantine period.

    Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated foreign nationals are not allowed into Canada. Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officials will deny entry to anyone who shows up at the Canada-U.S. crossing without appropriate proof of vaccination, the government said in announcing the policy earlier this month.

    The U.S. has imposed a similar vaccine mandate. As of this month, all essential foreign travellers, including truck drivers, must show proof of vaccination to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at a port of entry.

    The Canadian Trucking Alliance, the federation that represents the country’s truckers, said the “vast majority” of drivers are vaccinated. It warned, however, that Ottawa’s mandate could result in a loss of 12,000 to 16,000 Canadian cross-border commercial drivers — roughly to 10 to 15 per cent of the trucks regularly crossing the Canada-U.S. boundary.

    To protest the new vaccine requirement, hundreds of truckers from across the country are planning to descend on Ottawa this weekend to stage a demonstration on Parliament Hill. The effort, dubbed the “freedom convoy” by participants, is being organized by Canada Unity, an anti-public-health-mandate group. According to the group’s website, the convoy should arrive in the nation’s capital by Jan. 29.

    A GoFundMe fundraising campaign already has raised more than $3 million to help truckers and their allies make the cross-country trek.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the policy today, saying a wave of COVID-19 infections is doing more to disrupt Canada’s supply chains than any vaccine mandate could. He said enforcing this policy is the best way to keep new travel-related infections under control.

    “We know that about 90 per cent of truckers are vaccinated across this country. We’re going to continue to do everything we can to ensure COVID does not become a scourge and therefore we need to encourage everyone to get vaccinated,” he said.

    He said the Conservative Party is “fear-mongering” to convince Canadians that store shelves will be bare if this vaccine mandate is enforced.

    “The reality is vaccination is how we’re going to get through this, but this is not something the Conservative Party is ready to support,” he said.

    As the political brawl over vaccine mandates and the state of supply chains ramped up, Canadians took to social media over the weekend to post photos of their local grocery stores. Some images showed empty shelves while others showed abundance.

    Jordan Peterson is promoting this convoy in a spectacularly pathetic manner.

    Update to #127: per the Toronto Star, Rocco Galati remains hospitalized.

  232. says

    From today’s Guardian coronavirus world liveblog:

    Russia reports record Covid cases for fifth consecutive day

    Russia has reported a record number of daily new Covid cases for the fifth successive day, the government coronavirus task force said.

    Reuters report that the new daily cases jumped to 67,809, from 65,109 a day earlier. The previous single day peak of Covid in Russia was in November 2021, when the country briefly recorded just over 40,000 cases in one day.

  233. raven says

    Man Can’t Get Heart Transplant Because He’s Not Vaccinated Against COVID
    By Paul Burton January 24, 2022 at 11:59 pm CBSnews

    BOSTON (CBS) – David Ferguson is speaking out passionately on behalf of his son DJ. He says the 31-year-old is fighting for his life at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and in desperate need of a heart transplant. “My son has gone to the edge of death to stick to his guns and he’s been pushed to the limit,” Ferguson said.

    The family says he was at the front of the line to receive a transplant but because he has not received the COVID-19 vaccination he is no longer eligible according to hospital policy. And Ferguson says his son refuses to get the shot.

    DJ remains at BWH. He is a father of two children with a third on the way.

    Another idiot antivaxxer.
    This guy is dying and needs a heart transplant. All transplant programs require people to be vaccinated because your immune system is seriously low functioning afterwards.
    There are far more heart transplant candidates than there are hearts so docs won’t waste one on someone who won’t take care of it.

    The probability of someone with an organ transplant dying of Covid-19 virus is high.
    It is 20-30%.
    This guy wants one benefit of modern science, a heart transplant, but rejects another necessary procedure, a Covid-19 virus vaccine.

    And oh yeah. He is 31 years old and has three children. Who he is about to wave bye bye to forever.

  234. says

    RFK Jr. tweeted: “I apologize for my reference to Anne Frank, especially to families that suffered the Holocaust horrors. My intention was to use examples of past barbarism to show the perils from new technologies of control. To the extent my remarks caused hurt, I am truly and deeply sorry.”

    Several people have already noted that he did the same thing when he made a vaccine-Holocaust comparison in 2015. Also, he has a lot more to apologize for. (The responses from his fans are basically “You didn’t need to apologize. You were right.” Just completely off the deep end.)

  235. says

    More re #292 – Guardian – “Covid denialist and Bolsonaro ally Olavo de Carvalho died of virus, says daughter”:

    …Journalist André Fran wrote: “My condolences to all those whose relatives have fallen victim to the Bolsonarista hatred and denialism that Olavo did so much to a disseminate.”

    Carvalho’s daughter also had harsh words for her father, who was reportedly diagnosed with Covid on 16 January. “May God forgive him all the evil he has done,” she tweeted, recalling losing a friend to Covid on the day her father falsely claimed the world had not seen a single confirmed death. “She was a widow and left three orphaned children under the age of 10.”

    Brian Winter, a Brazil specialist who interviewed Carvalho at his rifle-filled Virginia home, said Bolsonaro’s guru had helped import “a kind of tropicalized Fox News culture focused on gender, guns and anti-globalism”….

    More at the link.

  236. says

    The list of Republicans seeking credit for the infrastructure package they opposed keeps growing.

    […] ABC News flagged an example I hadn’t seen elsewhere.

    In November, Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., was one of 205 House Republicans to vote against the bipartisan, $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill, calling it irresponsible and the “Green New Deal in disguise.” On Friday, he took to Twitter to tout funding from the bill he voted against — highlighting a $70 million expansion of the Port of Virginia in Norfolk — one of the busiest and deepest ports in the United States.

    Wittman, it’s worth emphasizing, later deleted the tweet.

    Regardless, the Virginia Republican is hardly alone on this front. Shortly before Thanksgiving, for example, Republican Rep. Gary Palmer of Alabama touted funding in the infrastructure package that will benefit his constituents, without noting that he voted against the bill.

    Last week, Republican Rep. Ashley Hinson of Iowa also sought credit for investments from the infrastructure package she opposed […], and Republican Rep. Kay Granger of Texas took similar steps.

    Even House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, the #2 Republican in the chamber, got in on the game. The Louisianan issued a press release last week touting new infrastructure funding from the law he opposed.

    By way of a defense, a Scalise spokesperson told The Los Angeles Times that it was “unfortunate that Democrats decided to play politics with infrastructure.” [LOL] […]

    But the usual defense is more straightforward: These GOP members liked the parts of the bill that will direct funds to their districts.

    Wittman told ABC News, for example, the congressman has long supported the Port of Virginia projects that are being financed by the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act that Biden signed into law. I heard from Hinson’s office over the weekend, and her spokesperson told me something similar.

    “Congresswoman Hinson opposed the infrastructure package because it was tied to trillions of other spending in the House,” the spokesperson said. “Since the bill was signed into law, this money was going to be spent regardless. If there’s federal money on the table she is, of course, going to do everything she can to make sure it is reinvested in Iowa. That’s why she worked with a bipartisan group of her colleagues in asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prioritize NESP construction along the Upper Mississippi River.”

    This is the standard line under these circumstances. […] But for the members being accused of hypocrisy, the larger context matters. Many Republicans condemned the infrastructure bill in no uncertain terms — throwing around words such as “socialist,” “radical,” and “Marxist” — and soon after launched an offensive against the modest number of GOP lawmakers who dared to make it bipartisan by voting for it.

    Now that the investments are starting to reach the public at the local level, however, some of these same Republicans are nevertheless eager to present themselves as champions of the funding that probably wouldn’t exist if they’d been successful in derailing the legislation.

    Either the new law is reckless socialism, or it’s poised to make worthwhile investments that will help a lot of people. […]

    When the GOP tries to do both at the same time — just as the party did with the Recovery Act and the American Rescue Plan — Republicans shouldn’t be surprised when they get called out for their brazenness.

  237. says

    Court Tosses Alabama GOP’s New District Map Because It Crammed Black Voting Power Into Just One District

    Just one district!

    A panel of three federal judges rejected the new Alabama district map drawn by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature […]

    The panel found that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed in arguing that the current map, which allows only one district to have a majority of Black voters, violates the ban on racist voter discrimination in the Voting Rights Act.

    Noting that Black Americans make up 27 percent of Alabama’s population and “have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress,” the judges argued that there were enough Black voters in the state for them to make up a majority in a second congressional district.

    The court also cited “ample evidence” of “intensely racially polarized voting” in the challenged districts.

    […] the Republican-controlled state legislature was given 14 days to draw a new map that has “two districts in which Black voters either comprise a voting-age majority or something quite close to it,” the court ordered.

    If lawmakers fail to do so, the court will appoint an expert to draw the new lines, according to the order.

    The federal judges also pushed the Jan. 28 deadline for candidates to qualify to be on the Alabama ballot to Feb. 11.

    The court’s map decision will likely be appealed. […]

    This is the second time a state’s newly drawn 2020 district map has been quashed by the courts due to Republican gerrymandering: The Ohio Supreme Court rejected the map from the state’s GOP-dominated redistricting commission less than two weeks ago and ordered it to draw a new one. […]

  238. says

    Kamala Harris visited Milwaukee to talk about lead pipe replacement, a touching moment was captured

    Despite ongoing criticism, Vice President Kamala Harris continues to keep her head down and do her job. In addition to the many accomplishments she’s had in her first year, Monday, she paid a visit to a nonprofit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and displayed a level of compassion most of us had forgotten existed in politics.

    Harris was in the Cream City to tout the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law, which will allocate $48 million to Wisconsin to remove lead pipes. […]

    “What we’re excited about is that it is not only going to be about the children and making sure they drink clean water; it’s going to be about investing in the talented people in the community to build up the skills to do the work,” Harris said of the lead pipes that snake through the nation.

    […] The most touching moment of the stop came when mother and activist Deanna Branch talked about her own health journey, overcoming devastating health Issues, her son’s battle with lead poisoning, and his numerous hospitalizations.

    “Aidan was hospitalized not once, but twice. So, many moms are going through the same thing,” Branch said. Branch showed off a picture book, she created with her son, featuring a superhero who fights the “lead monster.”

    “It means a lot to me and my community that I am hearing and talking to you on their behalf,” Branch told the vice president.

    ”You put out the call and it was heard,” Harris replied.

    “I’m glad it was heard,” Branch responded.

    When Branch finished speaking, she and the vice president shared a private moment, where Harris comforted Branch.

    […] The White House estimates between 6 million and 10 million U.S. households and 400,000 schools get water through lead service lines. According to Science, Americans are at risk of lead leaching from old pipes in their homes and city water systems. Exposure to lead can cause neurological problems in adults and delayed or stunted brain development in children.

    In recent years, lead pipes and the dangerous health impacts have come into focus, particularly as it impacts a majority of Black and brown communities […]

    As The Los Angeles Times reports, Rep. Kay Granger of Texas made no bones about voting against the measure, calling it a “socialist plan full of crushing taxes and radical spending.” But, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that the very same infrastructure bill would be funding a $403-million flood control project in her district in the Fort Worth area, she swiveled her head faster than Linda Blair in The Exorcist. […]

    Video is available at the link.

  239. says

    “What has Biden done.”


    •1.9T American Rescue Plan
    •$1400 stimulus checks for adults, children, and adult dependents
    •1 year child tax credit expansion – $3600 0-5, $3000 6-17, removed income reqs and made fully refundable
    •One year EITC expansion
    $350 billion state and local aid
    •$130 billion for schools for safe reopening
    •$40 billion for higher ed, half of which must go to student aid
    •Extended $300 supplemental UI through September 2021
    •Expanded eligibility for extended UI to cover new categories
    •Made $10,200 in UI from 2020 tax free
    •$1B for Head Start
    •$24B Childcare stabilization fund
    •$15B in low-income childcare grants
    •One Year Child and Dependent Care credit expansion
    •$46.5B in housing assistance, inc:
    •$21.5B rental assistance
    •$10B homeowner relief
    •$5B for Sec 8 vouchers
    •$5B to fight homelessness
    •$5B for utilities assistance
    •Extended Eviction moratorium through Aug 2021 (SC struck down)
    •2 year ACA tax credit expansion and ending of subsidy cliff – expanded coverage to millions and cut costs for millions more
    •100% COBRA subsidy through Sept 30th, 2021
    •6 month special enrollment period from Feb-Aug 2021
    •Required insurers to cover PrEP, an HIV prevention drug, including all clinical visits relating to it
    • Extended open enrollment from 45 to 76 days
    •New year round special enrollment period for low income enrollees
    •Restored Navigator program to assist with ACA sign up
    •Removed separate billing requirement for ACA abortion coverage
    •Eliminated regulation that allows states to privatize their exchanges
    •Eliminated all Medicaid work requirements
    •Permanently removed restriction on access to abortion pills by mail
    •Signed the Accelerating Access to Critical Therapies for ALS Act to fund increased ALS research and expedite access to experimental treatments
    •Rescinded Mexico City Policy (global gag rule) which barred international non-profits from receiving US funding if they provided abortion counseling or referrals
    •Allowed states to extend coverage through Medicaid and CHIP to post-partum women for 1 year (up from 60 days)
    •42 Lifetime Federal judges confirmed – most in 40 years
    •13 Circuit Court judges
    •29 District Court judges
    •Named first openly LBGTQ woman to sit on an appeals court, first Muslim American federal judge, and record number of black women and public defenders
    •$1.2T infrastructure law, including $550B in new funding
    •$110B for roads and bridges
    •$66B for passenger and freight rail
    •$39B for public transit, plus $30.5B in public transit funds from ARP
    •$65B for grid expansion to build out grid for clean energy transmission
    •$50B for climate resiliency
    •$21 for environmental remediation, incl. superfund cleanup and capping orphan wells
    •$7.5B for electric buses
    •$7.5B for electric charging stations
    •$55B for water and wastewater, including lead pipe removal
    •$65B for Affordable Broadband
    •$25B for airports, plus $8B from ARP
    •$17B for ports and waterways
    •$1B in reconnecting communities
    •Rejoined the Paris Climate Accords
    50% emission reduction goal (2005 levels) by 2030
    •EO instructing all federal agencies to implement climate change prevention measures
    •Ordered 100% carbon free electricity federal procurement by 2030
    •100% zero emission light vehicle procurement by 2027, all vehicles by 2035
    •Net Zero federal building portfolio by 2045, 50% reduction by 2032
    •Net Zero federal procurement no later than 2050
    •Net zero emissions from federal operations by 2050, 65% reduction by 2030
    •Finalized rule slashing the use of hydrofluorocarbons by 85% by 2036 – will slow temp rise by 0.5°C on it’s own.
    •Set new fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, raising the requirement for 2026 from 43mpg to 55mpg.
    •Protected Tongass National Forest, one of the world’s largest carbon sinks, from development, mining, and logging
    •Revoked Keystone XL permit
    •Used the CRA to reverse the Trump administration Methane rule, restoring stronger Obama era standards.[…]

    More! at the link.

  240. says

    In addition to those free coronavirus home test kits (four per household, order here) you can get from the government, the Biden administration this week is rolling out delivery of 400 million free N95 masks at pharmacies and community health centers. Some pharmacies are distributing the masks already, while others expect to have them within the next week or so, with the program fully in place by early February. (We hear January is almost over, which sounds like a ridiculous rumor to us.) The masks are being released from the US Strategic National Stockpile to help fight the Omicron variant, which is more contagious than previous variants of the virus.

    Unlike the test kit program, the free masks won’t be available by mail; you’ll need to drop by a participating pharmacy, which should include most of the major chains participating in the federal vaccination program, like Walgreens, Hy-Vee, Kroger, and Meijer, with other chains like CVS, Winn-Dixie, and Harveys Supermarket coming soon.

    CNN says the initial distribution is starting in the Midwest, with other locations following soon. When will free masks be available in your area? Probably best to check local media! And once the masks are available near you, it probably wouldn’t hurt to call the store ahead of time.

    The CDC recently updated its masking guidelines to recommend that you wear “the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently,” emphasizing that any mask is better than no mask at all, but that the most protection comes from N95 or KN95 masks, while loose-fitting cloth masks are the least protective (but still better than no mask). […]


    I will probably get my free masks the next time I go out to buy groceries. I think that store’s pharmacy will have them available for curbside distribution.

  241. says

    The rich getting richer, and profiting off federal programs meant to help low income people: As New York rental aid program ran dry, contractor boasted of ‘38 percent margins’

    Washington Post link

    The chief executive of the consulting firm running New York’s emergency rental assistance program told employees the company made “38 percent margins” on its contract with the state, triggering alarm among state officials, who called the chief executive statement’s “beyond troubling.”

    Scott McIntyre, chief executive of Guidehouse, congratulated employees in a November presentation on doing a strong job of running the program and touted that the firm had earned $115 million in fees over six months, according to a video of the presentation obtained by The Washington Post.

    “We’ve earned $115 million in six months, with 38 percent margins, and we have a significant extension that is currently pending,” he says in the presentation, which was recorded by the company and made available for employees to view online.

    New York’s rental assistance program is part of a national effort to distribute $46.5 billion in federal funds to struggling renters nationwide. Guidehouse, based in McLean, Va., began managing New York’s program in May, after winning a no-bid contract under Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D).

    New York’s program struggled out of the gate, as it failed to get any of the $2.4 billion the state was allotted to renters until August, according to the Treasury Department. It then dramatically increased its pace, making more than 108,000 payments on behalf of the state’s families. It has since run out of funds, prompting a lawsuit by a tenants’ groups against the state.

    […] upon reviewing the transcript of McIntyre’s comments provided by The Post, Justin Mason, a spokesman for the agency overseeing the contract, issued a statement saying: “It is beyond troubling that a company partially responsible for recurring technical issues in the processing of applications and payments for New York’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program would allegedly boast of its success in profiting off the misfortune of tens of thousands of New Yorkers adversely affected by the pandemic.”

    Mason said the agency, the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, will examine the company’s profits and compliance with state contracting rules. Guidehouse has also asked the state for a contract extension that would pay the company an additional $30 million. That request is pending, according to the state.

    “This Administration has been working to ensure that Guidehouse increases its efficiency and that the funding that helps tenants in need is maximized. Please be aware that New York State has not signed an extension of the contract while negotiations are ongoing to ensure these goals are met,” Mason said.

    […] two former Guidehouse executives said they were surprised McIntyre would use the 38 percent number if it did not reflect actual profit margins [“not actual profit margins” was an excuse/bogus explanation offered by Guidehouse spokeswoman Joy Jarrett] because, in their experience, Guidehouse generally accounted for the cost of delivering services before calculating margins.

    […] The other former executive said that had he been at the meeting, “My takeaway would be that we made 38 percent out of $115 million.”

    […] Guidehouse is one of many consulting, legal, accounting or technology companies nationwide that have won lucrative contracts managing slices of $4.5 trillion in emergency spending the federal government has approved since the start of the pandemic. Dozens of states, under pressure to rapidly deliver aid, quickly signed agreements that all but guarantee payments to the contractors but don’t always ensure that money will reach the people they’re meant to help. […]

    In the article, various other people and agencies are blamed for slow, for inefficient, and for unequal distribution of funds.

  242. says

    Awww, poor Prince Andrew:

    […] Assets including a chalet in Switzerland could soon be gone as well, sold off to raise cash for legal fees and the prospect of a multimillion-dollar judgment or settlement in a case alleging that he had sex with a teenager without her consent two decades ago.

    Andrew quietly cleared the way to sell his seven-bedroom Swiss lodge with an indoor swimming pool late last year, paying millions he owed the previous owner to remove a court claim that would have impeded putting the property on the market.

    The Duke of York had for years failed to pay the final $8 million installment of the $29 million purchase, citing a lack of funds, said Isabelle de Rouvre, a French national who sold the property to Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, in 2014. […]

    Washington Post link

  243. says

    Paul Krugman:

    Americans like to think of their nation as a beacon of freedom. And despite all the ways in which we have failed to live up to our self-image, above all the vast injustices that sprang from the original sin of slavery, freedom — not just free elections, but also freedom of speech and thought — has long been a key element of the American idea.

    Now, however, freedom is under attack, on more fronts than many people realize. Everyone knows about the Big Lie, the refusal by a large majority of Republicans to accept the legitimacy of a lost election. But there are many other areas in which freedom is not just under assault but in retreat.

    Let’s talk, in particular, about the attack on education, especially but not only in Florida, which has become one of America’s leading laboratories of democratic erosion.

    Republicans have made considerable political hay by denouncing the teaching of critical race theory; this strategy has succeeded even though most voters have no idea what that theory is and it isn’t actually being taught in public schools. But the facts in this case don’t matter, because denunciations of C.R.T. are basically a cover for a much bigger agenda: an attempt to stop schools from teaching anything that makes right-wingers uncomfortable.

    […] There’s a bill advancing in the Florida Senate declaring that an individual “should not be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race.” That is, the criterion for what can be taught isn’t “Is it true? Is it supported by the scholarly consensus?” but rather “Does it make certain constituencies uncomfortable?”

    Anyone tempted to place an innocuous interpretation on this provision — maybe it’s just about not assigning collective guilt? — should read the text of the bill. Among other things, it cites as its two prime examples of things that must not happen in schools “denial or minimization of the Holocaust, and the teaching of critical race theory” — because suggesting that “racism is embedded in American society” (the bill’s definition of the theory) is just the same as denying that Hitler killed six million Jews.

    What’s really striking, however, is the idea that schools should be prohibited from teaching anything that causes “discomfort” among students and their parents. […] racism is far from being the only disturbing topic in American history. I’m sure that some students will find that the story of how we came to invade Iraq — or for that matter how we got involved in Vietnam — makes them uncomfortable. […]

    Once the Florida standard takes hold, how long will teaching of evolution survive?

    Geology, by the way, has the same problem. I’ve been on nature tours where the guides refuse to talk about the origins of rock formations, saying that they’ve had problems with some religious guests.

    Oh, and given the growing importance of anti-vaccination posturing as a badge of conservative allegiance, how long before basic epidemiology […] gets the critical race theory treatment?

    And then there’s economics, which these days is widely taught at the high school level. (Full disclosure: Many high schools use an adapted version of the principles text I co-author.) Given the long history of politically driven attempts to prevent the teaching of Keynesian economics, what do you think the Florida standard would do to teaching in my home field?

    The point is that the smear campaign against critical race theory is almost certainly the start of an attempt to subject education in general to rule by the right-wing thought police, which will have dire effects far beyond the specific topic of racism.

    And who will enforce the rules? State-sponsored vigilantes! Last month Ron DeSantis, Florida’s governor, proposed a “Stop Woke Act” that would empower parents to sue school districts they claim teach critical race theory — and collect lawyer fees, a setup modeled on the bounties under Texas’ new anti-abortion law. Even the prospect of such lawsuits would have a chilling effect on teaching.

    […] OK, I’m sure that some people will say that I’m making too much of these issues. But ask yourself: Has there been any point over, say, the past five years when warnings about right-wing extremism have proved overblown and those dismissing those warnings as “alarmist” have been right?

    NY Times link

  244. says

    On Jan. 6 questions, Alex Jones is the latest to plead the Fifth

    Donald Trump has been unsubtle in deriding those who asserted their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. “The mob takes the Fifth Amendment,” the then-candidate said in 2016. “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”

    The question has taken on new significance of late.

    We learned last week, for example, that when Eric Trump faced questions about the Trump Organization’s business practices, he invoked the Fifth Amendment in response to more than 500 questions. When Alex Jones spoke to the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, he didn’t plead the Fifth quite as often, though by his own admission, the total nearly reached triple digits. Politico reported this morning:

    Pro-Trump broadcaster and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones told listeners that he asserted his Fifth Amendment rights nearly 100 times during an interview Monday with the Jan. 6 select committee…. Jones attributed his decision to plead the Fifth to advice from his attorneys […]

    As part of his broadcast, Jones told his audience about what he described as his “unofficial testimony.” Given the professional conspiracy theorist’s track record, it’s difficult to know what to believe, though it was of interest that Jones said investigators had a lot of detailed information about him.

    The Politico report added that they displayed images of text messages he had with GOP fundraiser Caroline Wren — whom he described as a liaison with the White House for logistics related to Donald Trump’s rally — and Cindy Chafian, who organized a pro-Trump rally on Jan. 5.

    As for the larger pattern, let’s take stock:

    Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official who tried to help Donald Trump overturn the 2020 election by sketching out a map for Republican legislators, told the Jan. 6 committee a couple of months ago that he’d “claim Fifth Amendment protection” against self-incrimination.

    John Eastman, who allegedly played a direct role in trying to pressure states not to send Democratic electors, even after the Democratic ticket won those states, also reportedly pleaded the Fifth — by some accounts, nearly 150 times.

    Roger Stone, a longtime Trump adviser and GOP operative, said two weeks later that he also pleaded the Fifth.

    And now, according to Alex Jones, he’s done the same thing.

    In other words, when it comes to the investigation into the attack on the Capitol, at least four people in Trump’s orbit have refused to answer questions about the riot for fear that their answers may be used against them in possible criminal proceedings.

    Raise your hand if you expect that number to grow.

  245. says

    Republican agriculture commissioner in Texas blocks Black farmers from federal aid they need

    If there is one group of Americans in agriculture who deserve to be taken care of, it’s the nation’s Black farmers. But just as this group was poised to receive desperately needed relief, Texas Republican Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller challenged the law, blocking the farmers from the money they were rightfully due.

    Tucked into President Joe Biden’s massive $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill is the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act, a provision that includes $5 billion for “socially disadvantaged farmers of color.” It includes Black, Latino, Indigenous, and Asian American farmers, and $4 billion would go toward covering up to 120% of outstanding debt, with $1 billion designated for outreach, training, education, technical assistance, and grants.

    The money has the potential to begin to right the wrongs of over a century of abuse of Black farmers by the government and a plethora of corrupt, biased agencies.

    In April, Miller—along with several other white litigants—told The Texas Tribune that the program is “facially illegal and constitutionally impermissible.” He added: “Such a course will lead only to disunity and discord.”

    […] Miller is just one person among countless bodies of racist organizations that have kept their feet on the necks of Black farmers for generations. Black farmers have lost over 12 million acres of farmland since the 1950s thanks to systemic racism and exclusionary practices by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)—even more recently when former President Donald Trump doled out nearly all of the $28 billion designed to offset the trade war with China to exclusively white farmers.

    According to the USDA, the number of Black farmers had plummeted from 925,000 in 1920 to about 18,500 by 1997. And the USDA has unrelentingly denied Black farmers loans. CNN reports that in 2021, the USDA rejected 42% of loan applications for Black farmers and only 9% for white farmers.

    “It’s common knowledge that white ranchers have access to credit that Black ranchers don’t have,” Brandon Smith, a Black rancher, said in a declaration submitted to the court. “That’s the way it’s always been.”

    Smith applied for a motion to intervene in Miller’s lawsuits via the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund.

    Igalious “Ike” Mills is a Black farmer in Nacogdoches and director of the Texas Agriforestry Small Farmers and Ranchers. He says Miller’s suit has destroyed what crumb of trust Black farmers had in any government programs claiming to help them.

    […] The money from Biden’s farm program would have gone a long way toward repairing historic wrongs that date back to America’s legalization of using enslaved people to build its economy and line the pockets of white slaveholders for generations.

    […] the fact that Miller can halt a program is evidence of how far this country has to go before equity is established.

    […] Miller’s suit is being overseen by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, who in the past has ruled against vital Obamacare provisions and transgender children’s rights to use the bathroom reflecting their identity, making him a darling of the Texas right wing. Even the hateful, xenophobic, racist, revolting Stephen Miller has become involved, sponsoring support via America First Legal, the group he founded.

    In light of the lawsuit, Biden has attempted to go around the COVID relief bill and add money for farmers via the Build Back Better Act, which would give money based on need versus race. The problem is that wouldn’t give them the much-needed debt relief, because that would only apply to farmers who’ve lost loans via the Farm Service Agency (FSA), which doesn’t include most Black farmers because they can’t get FSA loans, only private loans.

    “If Black farmers don’t get this debt relief that they’ve been promised, it’s almost like a contract that’s being broken,” Cornelius Blanding, executive director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, which represents Black farmers, told Reuters.

  246. says

    Georgia Republicans roll out big Southern welcome back for mumps, measles, whooping cough, and polio

    Currently, children attending school in Georgia are required to be vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, meningitis, chickenpox, hepatitis A, and polio. For some of these diseases, as many as five doses may be required for a school-aged child. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Georgia Institute of Technology, both based in Atlanta, Georgia, have been instrumental in developing these vaccines and vaccine delivery systems that have allowed kids to be treated with safe and effective preventive medications for generations.

    Before these vaccines were available, the number of children dying from each disease in a single year wasn’t huge—nothing like the numbers of people falling to COVID-19 today. Measles might take away 500 children in a year while leaving another 1,000 with lasting brain damage. Similar numbers would fall to mumps. In its peak year, polio killed 3,152 people in America, most of them children. Another 54,000 were left with some level of paralysis. Pertussis—whooping cough—was the biggest of the regular reapers of children, taking some 9,000 a year before there were vaccines.

    Really, in any given year, the threat to any individual child was small; the kind that would have a modern television pundit calculating that 99.9% chance of survival. But those children ran this gauntlet again the next year, and the next. The cumulative threat was great enough that the difference was enormous.

    In 2000, less than 2% of deaths in the United States were for people under 20. In 1900, 30% of all deaths were among children under 5. That’s the difference that the elimination of childhood diseases has made.

    And that’s what a new bill in Georgia would roll back.

    The bill before the Georgia legislature goes under the guise of prohibiting “state and local governments from mandating vaccine passports.”

    If there’s any doubt about what is considered a part of state or local government, the bill specifically calls out: “Every state department, agency, board, bureau, office, commission, public corporation, and authority; Every county, municipal corporation, school district, or other political subdivision of this state; Every department, agency, board, bureau, office, commission, authority, or similar body of each such county, municipal corporation, or other political subdivision of this state; and Every city, county, regional, or other authority established pursuant to the laws of this state.” If there’s anything not covered there, it’s hard to think of what it might be.

    If there’s any thought that this might apply only to vaccines related to COVID-19, that’s made clear in the remainder of this very, very short bill.

    “No agency shall require proof of any vaccination of any person as a condition of providing any service or access to any facility, issuing any license, permit, or other type of authorization, or performing any duty of such agency. No agency, through any rule, regulation, ordinance, resolution, or other action shall require that any person or private entity require proof of vaccination of any person as a condition of providing any service or access to any facility, or as a condition of such person or private entity’s performance of any regular activity by such person or private entity.”

    Under this law, no school can require vaccination—of any sort—for children. Or teachers. The same would be true of any other organization, including county health departments or government-affiliated hospitals.

    […] This is a law that has 17 sponsors in the Georgia general assembly. It’s a law designed by people who are willing to see the landscape littered with small tombstones if that’s what it takes to own the libs.

    Don’t let it be said that Republicans aren’t willing to sacrifice. They’ll put their own kids and grandkids on the altar. Just not themselves. Because they’ve all been vaccinated.

    And it’s not the only such bill under consideration.

    Similar bills are being considered in Iowa.

  247. says

    Ukraine would not be on the brink of invasion were it not for Paul Manafort and Donald Trump

    In 1995, a collapse of Soviet-era infrastructure created a massive public health disaster in Ukraine’s second-largest city. Over 1.6 million people were left without drinking water, and sewage was polluting local wells and rivers. A deadly cholera outbreak was considered likely and hundreds of thousands of people were forced from their homes. Then tanker trucks rolled into the city carrying fresh water and engineers arrived to help plan and execute an overhaul of the failed systems. That assistance came from NATO.

    […] cooperation between Ukraine and NATO is far from new. It’s not an idea that’s been pushed on the country by the United States. It’s not some kind of one-sided deal to place pressure on Russia. NATO assistance and closer ties to the West—including NATO membership—have been regularly sought by Ukraine because its government recognized that those bonds offered not just military protection, but economic stability that could not be found in the criminal oligarchy of Russia and other kleptocratic former Soviet republics.

    […] Putin sought out allies who would help him break Ukraine by breaking its connection to the West. He needed propagandists. He needed specialists in subverting elections, raising public ire, and spreading lies about the actual threats. And Putin found that assistance—from Republicans.

    […] he engaged former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort.

    Manafort, along with Roger Stone, was one of the founders of Black, Manafort & Stone, a lobbying firm […] That firm also gained another name around the world, where it became known as “The Torturer’s Lobby” for its starring role in helping to promote such figures as Philippine authoritarian Ferdinand Marcos, Angolan mass murderer Jonas Savimbi, and Zairian military dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

    […] Yanukovych and the Party of Regions decided that they needed to bring in a real expert — Paul Manafort.

    Two years later, as part of growing ties between Ukraine and NATO, U.S. Marines were visiting the Ukrainian city of Feodosia. The Marines were supposed to be part of a military exercise that would see NATO troops and Ukrainian military working together—a precursor to bringing Ukraine into NATO. Except the Marines fell under attack from “angry locals.”

    “We had rocks thrown at us,” reported one Maine. “Rocks hit Marines. Buses were rocked back and forth. We were just trying to get to our base.”

    The violence was bad enough that Marines were unable to reach either their base or their supply ship. Eventually, the situation was described as an anti-NATO “riot.” The joint exercise was canceled. However, later analysis of that “riot” showed it to be anything but a spontaneous outbreak of anti-Western sentiment.

    American diplomatic cables and Ukrainian prosecutors say the anti-US, anti-NATO protests that threatened these Marines were largely partisan plants, organized by politicians who consulted with Paul Manafort, now the prominent campaign aide to presidential candidate Donald Trump.

    Manafort’s staged riot did more than cancel a single exercise. It became the “evidence” that Ukrainians didn’t really want ties with NATO. Nine years later, Vladimir Putin directly cited this event to support his claim that Ukrainians supported the Russian invasion of Ukraine that resulted in the occupation of Crimea.

    […] Over a 15-year relationship, one that continued even as he was working for Trump, Manafort helped to spread propaganda, protect corruption, and conduct illegal lobbying in the U.S. all in support of increasing Russia’s claim on Ukraine.

    […] Something else that Manafort did in 2005 — he hired Russian spy Konstantin Kilimnik as an employee of his consulting firm. Kilimnik would go on to become Manafort’s primary operative in Ukraine, as well as his intermediary in dealings with Vladimir Putin.

    […] despite having campaigned on support for an already initialed agreement that would make Ukraine an affiliate of the European Union, Yanukovych refused to sign the agreement. Instead, he signed onto a deal that strengthened Ukraine’s connection with, and dependence on, Russia. The result was two years of protests eventually leading to Yanukovych’s ouster (again) in 2014.

    It was only in the wake of this second collapse that ledgers and records began to reveal the extent of Manafort’s role in keeping Ukraine broken and unable to stand up to Putin.

    The handoff from Manafort to Trump, when it comes to the ongoing injury to Ukraine, was a smooth one. As the Senate report described in 2020:

    “Manafort hired and worked increasingly closely with a Russian national, Konstantin Kilimnik. Kilimnik is a Russian intelligence officer. Kilimnik became an integral part of Manafort’s operations in Ukraine and Russia, serving as Manafort’s primary liaison to Deripaska and eventually managing Manafort’s office in Kyiv.”

    And when it came to the Trump campaign:

    “Prior to joining the Trump Campaign in March 2016 and continuing throughout his time on the Campaign, Manafort directly and indirectly communicated with Kilimnik, Deripaska, and the pro-Russian oligarchs in Ukraine.”

    That included injecting into the Trump campaign a “peace plan for eastern Ukraine that benefited the Kremlin.”

    […] Trump tried to leverage Ukraine into a weapon he could use against Joe Biden.

    With Rudy Giuliani acting as his agent on the ground, Trump established ties with disgraced prosecutors, exiled oligarchs, and a series of corrupt officials. All of them were willing to give Trump what he wanted: False claims against Biden and his son, Hunter. What they wanted was never in doubt — support for Russia’s goals inside of Ukraine.

    To clear the way for this activity, Trump dismissed a well-respected and experienced ambassador so that Giuliani could operate more freely. […]

    When Trump and Putin met in 2018, Putin said that Trump agreed that Crimea belonged to Russia, and that he would “help resolve the conflict” by following the plan Manafort and Kilimnik created, essentially dividing Ukraine down the middle and handing one half to Russia.

    […] The thread that runs from Putin to Manafort to Trump is far from the only infiltration that the Russian leader has made into the Republican Party. Americans have seen such spectacles as Republican senators choosing to spend their 4th of July holiday visiting with Putin. Republicans like Sen. Ron Johnson have become reliable mouthpieces for Russian disinformation, and Republican admiration for the authoritarian leader of the Kremlin has been boundless.

    Republican actions demonstrating love for Putin is too widespread to be contained in this article. So is Russian expertise in using social media to widen social and political divides in the United States. Even definitive proof that Russia engaged in campaign interference that included sending Russian agents to put “boots on the ground” in the U.S. in order to create fake “grassroots” protests, did nothing but deepen the Republican bonds to the Russian dictator. That Russian state media now has an entire network devoted to strengthening the bonds between Putin and wannabe authoritarians around the world doesn’t hurt.

    But over the last few weeks, Fox News has conducted a spectacular display of how willing they are to join in with Russia to invade and dismember a U.S. ally, and how eager they are to consider protecting democracy a “threat” that deserves attack.

    While this theme has pervaded Fox’s broadcasts, nowhere has it been so jaw-droppingly straightforward as in the weeks Tucker Carlson has spent forwarding the Kremlin’s agenda. That’s included praising Putin’s “strength,” talking up Russia for its “energy resources,” and dismissing the whole idea that there is anything admirable about supporting a long-time ally.

    As the situation on Ukraine’s borders gets worse, so does Carlson.

    If this looks like a fifth-column effort to forward Russia’s agenda in the United States, that’s only because that’s exactly what it is. […]

    Paul Manafort was instrumental in making possible Putin’s first (and still ongoing) invasion of Ukraine. Now the legacy of Donald Trump, paired with ongoing efforts from pro-Russian Republicans and Fox News, are key to utterly destroying a longtime U.S. ally. Currently, more than 100,000 Russian forces now located just outside that nation. There is little doubt that, should Putin decide to attack, he can overwhelm the nation’s defenses in a matter of days and install pro-Russian puppets in Kyiv.

    Meanwhile, Fox News continues to undermine support for defending Ukraine with a pro-Russian position that the station has been pushing for months. […] the answer to Tucker Carlson’s question of “Why is it disloyal to side with Russia but loyal to side with Ukraine?” is a simple one: Because Ukraine has been a U.S. ally for decades, to whom we’ve made both diplomatic and military promises. On the other hand, Russia is a longtime antagonist—if not an outright enemy—which has worked tirelessly to undermine the U.S. position at home and abroad, including direct interference in U.S. elections and engaging in extensive propaganda efforts designed to weaken America through raising racial tensions. […]

  248. Jean says

    SC @ 294
    That article is misleading. The Canadian truckers have known since November 15 that they would need a vaccination proof to cross the border starting January 15 (or at least they should have known since this is when the measure was announced publicly and reported on all the media). The January 13 date mentioned is when there was some unofficial talks about having a delay for this requirement that was later denied.
    And the US has a similar measure that came in effect last week and was announced last October which means a unilateral change would not do anything for the unvaccinated covidiots.

  249. says

    Jean @ #312, thanks.

    I didn’t include these two paragraphs because I found them confusing:

    The vaccine policy stems from a Jan. 13 decision by the federal government to extend most of the border policies that already apply to the general public to essential workers — including truckers, who up to now have been freely crossing the Canada-U.S. border.

    While the policy was announced initially in November, the government appeared to backtrack earlier this month when a spokesperson told journalists the policy would not come into force as planned. That statement was sent “in error,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos later said.

    I thought, “How was a January 13 decision announced in November?” If I give the reporter the benefit of the doubt, I would assume it’s one of those articles that emerges from multiple rounds of reporting and has become muddled. But I agree – it gives the impression that it’s a new policy sprung on people this month – I think he refers to it as “new” four times! – and is also very unclear about the implications of the US policy.

    So the convoy is even stupider than I’d thought.

  250. says

    Guardian – “‘Peace, freedom, no dictatorship!’: Germans protest against Covid restrictions “:

    On Monday evening on the dot of 7pm people emerged from dimly lit side streets and gathered on the Oberkirchplatz square in Cottbus for what has become a weekly ritual in towns and cities across Germany: a protest against coronavirus protection measures.

    The demonstrations have grown in strength as cases of the Omicron variant have surged, and in recent weeks a looming decision on bringing in a vaccine mandate has become the focus of protesters’ ire. More than 2,000 rallies were held nationwide on Monday, drawing tens of thousands of participants.

    The gentle click of heels and umbrella studs on wet cobbled stones was quickly drowned out…by a man who bellowed “Frieden, Freiheit, keine Diktatur!” (Peace, freedom, no dictatorship) then “Widerstand!” (Resistance).

    A woman nearby took up the cry with “Wir sind das Volk!” (We are the people) – the chant that echoed around cities across communist east Germany in 1989 before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

    There is growing evidence that the protests are being manipulated behind the scenes by rightwing populists and far-right groups, who see issues such as restrictions on gatherings, insistence on the wearing of medical masks as well as a possible vaccine mandate for adults as topics ripe for political exploitation.

    Zukunft Heimat (Future Homeland), a far-right group founded in 2015 at the height of the refugee crisis that spreads a nationalist, anti-refugee message, coordinates much of the activity around demonstrations in the state of Brandenburg, including Cottbus.

    Ahead of Monday’s rallies, it posted a message from one of its co-founders, Christoph Berndt, a dentist who is also the parliamentary leader of the far-right populist AfD in Brandenburg and has been a speaker at anti-refugee Pegida rallies. He called on people to “defend our freedom and our democracy …” against a government which is “treating its citizens with disdain”.

    Berndt has previously questioned whether anyone has died of Covid, said he does not believe the virus exists, and refused to wear a mask because it is a “symbol of suppression”.

    On chat rooms and in conversations on messaging apps about the rallies, people talk about wanting to topple the government, comparing the administration to a dictatorship. Those who once rallied against the former chancellor, Angela Merkel, over her refugee policy now rail against her successor, Olaf Scholz, and his health minister, Karl Lauterbach.

    Some refer, online and in person – with what generally appears as glee – to a conspiracy theory called Tag X (Day X) that predicts Germany’s “entire system” will collapse due to critical infrastructure being disabled by quarantine measures.

    Rally participants are encouraged to “put sand into the cogs of a system” already perceived to be on its last legs, and lighthearted references are made to a “civil war mood”.

    At the time of the refugee crisis, rightwing extremists linked to the far-right Identitarian movement, the rightwing-focused advertising agency One Per Cent and the thinktank Institut für Staatspolitik (IfS) built a digital map, showing the location of anti-Islam protests across Germany. People could put in their postcode and find their nearest rally.

    A similar map has been produced for the coronavirus “Spaziergang” movement, created by the far-right association Filmkunstkollektiv, whose members and supporters include Identitarians, members of the IfS, and One Per Cent.

    Filmkunstkollektiv is also known to have produced film material for the AfD, recently accompanying its youth wing on a “vaccine strike” in Berlin….

    Much of the wind for the protests has come from neighbouring Austria, where plans for a vaccine mandate and the fightback against it are more inflamed. There, the founder of the Identitarian movement, Martin Sellner, has referred to vaccine passports and fines as “totalitarian instruments”.

    This mindset was reflected in some of the protesters on Monday night, even those who declared themselves “apolitical”….

    Experts on Germany’s constitution have warned that the victimhood narrative expressed by many of the protesters is in danger of being exploited by extremist elements.

  251. says

    CNN – “The West fears Russia is about to attack Ukraine. But that’s not the way Russians are seeing it on TV”:

    Foreign forces bristling with weapons are rolling toward the Ukrainian border. Reconnaissance planes streak overhead. Rumors of “false flag” operations run rampant.

    If you’re watching state TV in Moscow, you’re seeing video of troops and tanks, barbed wire and snipers taking aim, but it’s not Russia’s forces that are poised for attack — it’s NATO’s.

    Welcome to Russia’s mirror-image depiction of the showdown over Ukraine. In the country’s alternate media landscape, NATO forces are carrying out a plan that’s been in the works for years: Encircle Russia, topple President Vladimir Putin and seize control of Russia’s energy resources.

    In Moscow’s view, repeated in nearly every newscast and talk show, Ukraine is a failed state entirely controlled by the “puppet master” — the United States. Europe is a weak and divided collection of lap dogs taking orders from Washington. Even the US, as frighteningly threatening as it is, is weak and divided too, torn apart by political division and racial unrest.

    But wait. How can those powers be a threat — and be weak at the same time? That’s one of the conundrums of Russian state propaganda. Thinking things through isn’t what they’re trying to encourage. Rather they’re trying to raise the blood pressure of their viewers — and to make them very afraid.

    Russian state TV’s flagship political news show, Dmitry Kiselyov’s “Vesti Nedeli” (“News of the Week”), opened this past Sunday with Kiselyov saying: “Instead of answers to the peaceful initiatives of the Kremlin [!], they’re burying us with accusations and new threats.”

    Any hint of disagreement between Europe and the US or NATO is headline news in Russia, and one of the top stories on Kiselyov’s show featured comments by Germany’s naval chief that Putin “deserves respect” and that Crimea — a Ukrainian territory annexed by Moscow — is “gone forever.” The report ended on the satisfied note that the officer had to resign.

    Ukraine may not be caught up in a full-blown invasion for now, but there is already an all-out war of words in Russian media.

    US government statements are dismissed as comments from the “Ministry of Information,” and Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov has accused Washington of “information hysterics,” “lies” and “fakes.” (The word “fake” is now a Russian word, pronounced pretty much the same as the English.)

    And maps on Russian state TV showing Russia’s ally Belarus surrounded by NATO forces bear an uncanny resemblance to maps in Western media reports showing Ukraine surrounded on three sides by Russian troops.

    Accusations of possible Russian attacks on Ukraine are dismissed as the “half-mythological threat from Russia” or as “Russophobia” from the “Anglo-Saxons.”

    Tensions aren’t high because of Russia, the Kremlin says — it’s because of NATO.

    In a striking piece of mirror-image propaganda, Russian TV has taken to re-broadcasting, with translation, comments by Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson, whose anti-NATO and anti-US President Joe Biden screeds neatly align with the Kremlin’s line. “He [Carlson] ought to be on your show!” one guest on a Russian talk show told the anchor.

    The state media blitz seems to be having an effect. A December poll by the non-governmental polling and sociological research organization the Levada-Center, showed that half of respondents blame the US and NATO for tensions, while only 3% to 4% blame Russia.

    Meanwhile, Levada-Center pollsters say Russians are “mentally fatigued” by the topic of Ukraine which, they say, “seems to be imposed by major media outlets.”…

  252. says

    SC @314, that’s so bad. We need to be broadcasting or distributing more facts into Russia somehow. We need to counteract the propaganda.

  253. says

    President Biden silenced critics of his mental sharpness on Monday by correctly identifying Peter Doocy of Fox News.

    After Doocy asked the President a question, Biden made an impressive display of his mental acuity by conclusively demonstrating that he knew who Doocy was.

    While some have questioned whether Biden, who is seventy-nine, has the cognitive powers necessary to serve as President, his spot-on description of the Fox White House correspondent seemed to put those doubts to rest.

    “The President was faced with a cognitive test—‘Who is Peter Doocy?’—and he nailed it,” one observer said. “This leaves ‘person, woman, man, camera, TV’ in the dust.”

    New Yorker link

    Biden was caught on a hot mike when he said that Doocy was a stupid son of a [B-word].

  254. says

    […] bizarre to see Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis contribute to the problem in an incoherent way. The Orlando Sentinel reported overnight:

    Gov. Ron DeSantis slammed the Biden administration Tuesday for dropping two antibody treatments for COVID-19 that he has championed, even though the drugmakers themselves concede they are ineffective against omicron.

    Even by contemporary standards, this one’s a doozy.

    The FDA announced this week that the monoclonal antibody treatments from Regeneron and Eli Lilly should no longer be used. The drugs had received emergency-use authorizations, but because they don’t work against the omicron variant, federal health regulators decided revoking the authorization was the obvious move.

    Both drugmakers endorsed the policy change, agreeing that the infusion treatments aren’t effective against omicron.

    In theory, that should effectively end the conversation. In practice, Florida’s Republican governor responded to the news by throwing a fit and accusing the Biden administration of “pulling the rug out from under people.”

    At a press conference yesterday, DeSantis went on to tell reporters “Early this morning, thousands of Floridians woke up to news that their appointments to get treatment for Covid-19 infection were canceled by the administration, which revoked, outright revoked authorization for two very popular monoclonal antibody treatments.”

    Of course, the treatments were “popular” when they worked. They’d likely remain “popular” if they still worked. But for grown-ups, what’s supposed to matter is not whether medicines are well liked, but rather, whether they’re effective at treating patients.

    And yet, there’s Florida’s furious GOP governor, threatening to file a lawsuit that would, if successful, force the Biden administration to re-endorse treatments that won’t help people during the pandemic.

    DeSantis added yesterday that there isn’t “a shred of clinical data to support” the FDA’s decision, which — you guessed it — isn’t true, either.

    It’s why White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki marveled yesterday at just “how crazy this is.” She added that the Biden administration continues to dispatch treatments to Florida that are effective, but DeSantis administration officials “are still advocating for treatments that don’t work.”

    Well, sure, when you put it that way, it sounds bad.

    Making matters quite a bit worse, the governor — a former member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus in Congress — could be investing his energies into promoting vaccines and boosters that do work, instead of ineffective treatments that even the drug’s manufacturers concede do not work.

    But he’s not. Instead, DeSantis has recently publicly questioned the safety of vaccines. And made Trump-like complaints about testing. And treated his booster status as a state secret. And allowed his administration to punish a Florida Health Department official who has been integral in leading central Florida through the pandemic because the doctor had the audacity to encourage people in his office to get vaccinated.

    And let’s also not forget that the governor tapped a fringe figure with ridiculous ideas to serve as Florida’s surgeon general — despite the fact that Dr. Joseph Ladapo has questioned the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines, denounced vaccine requirements, referenced unsubstantiated conspiracy theories to argue against vaccines, and encouraged Floridians to “stick with their intuition,” as opposed to following the guidance of public health officials who actually know what they’re talking about.

    The Miami Herald’s editorial board recently took stock of the latest developments surrounding DeSantis and Florida’s response to the pandemic, and the editors didn’t mince any words. “Nothing can hide Florida’s descent into Crazyville,” the Herald’s editorial board wrote.

    That was in October. Things are much worse now.


  255. says

    Daily Beast – “Kremlin TV Worries Tucker Carlson’s Pro-Putin Bias Has Gone Too Far”:

    With Russian troops steadily massing on the Ukraine border and a looming threat of an invasion that the White House described as “imminent,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson would have you look the other way.

    During the episode of his Monday show, Carlson pondered: “Why is it disloyal to side with Russia but loyal to side with Ukraine?” Three years earlier, Carlson admitted that he is rooting for Russia in its conflict with Ukraine. He said, in part: “Why do I care… what is going on in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia? And I’m serious. Why do I care? Why shouldn’t I root for Russia, which I am?”

    Facing criticism, Carlson walked back his comments and claimed he was “joking.” In 2022, he is unabashedly pushing the talking points favored by the Kremlin and no longer making excuses. Carlson is going so far to support the Russian propaganda narrative that prominent personalities on the Kremlin-funded state television are concerned about his future in the United States. Last Sunday, one of Russia’s most-watched television networks Channel One played the clip from Carlson’s show, where he argued that Russia’s anger at NATO’s alleged involvement in Ukraine was well-justified. Reporter Ivan Blagoy then noted the Fox News host “is predictably being accused of playing along with Moscow.”

    Broadcasting the same translated clip of Carlson last week on Russia’s second most-watched TV network, Rossiya-1, host of 60 Minutes Evgeny Popov fawned over Carlson by describing him as one of the “voices of truth and reason” and complained that the host of the most-watched show in all of cable news with millions of viewers is being “silenced and marginalized.” In 2020, Popov demonstrated his affinity for Carlson by introducing him as “practically our co-host.”

    Last Wednesday, Russia’s English-language state media outlet RT published an op-ed by Irish commentator Graham Dockery, who marveled: “Once considered a sewer pipe of neoconservative jingoism, Fox News is now anti-war—or at least its top-rated host is… The picture is clear: When it comes to Ukraine, pundits and commentators from the establishment left to the neocon right only disagree on how quickly and strongly the U.S. should wade in to stop a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine. Only Carlson, considered far-right by American liberals, is in complete opposition to U.S. involvement.” RT’s writer complained “the sole anti-war voice on prime-time cable happens to belong to a man whom liberals believe is a “white supremacist,” thus undermining his considerable influence.

    That same day, opposing U.S. intervention against Russia’s aggression, Carlson prodded his audiences by claiming: “You are currently funding a proxy battle in Ukraine against the nuclear-armed Russian military and that could very well erupt into a hot war that includes you, the United States.” The tactic of terrorizing American audiences with the possibility of nuclear war, in order to undermine U.S. support for Ukraine, has been repeatedly discussed by experts on Russian state television. Portraying Ukraine as an insignificant country of no importance to the United States—unworthy of such an alleged risk—Carlson derided it as “a small corrupt nation.”

    On Thursday, Carlson reiterated the same slight and described Ukraine—the largest state entirely within Europe and the second largest on the continent after Russia—as “a pretty small country.”…

    Predictably, Carlson’s portrayal of Ukraine as a small, corrupt, insignificant nation that is of no consequence to the U.S. is in perfect alignment with the way Russia’s beleaguered neighbor is being smeared on Kremlin-funded state television, in order to humiliate the fledgling democracy and dissuade it from resisting Russian aggression. This Tuesday, 60 Minutes broadcast a string of translated clips from Carlson’s shows on Fox News….

    Earlier in January, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu asserted that “Russia can’t afford to lose the information war” against the West. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have a major media personality broadcasting propaganda that benefits Moscow directly to millions of Americans….

    When even the Kremlin is like, “Maybe dial down the Lord Haw-Haw, dude.”

  256. says

    House Republicans have been tripping over one another in recent weeks, trying to claim credit for infrastructure investments from a law they tried to kill. In fact, the list keeps growing: NBC News flagged a related example this morning, noting Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas celebrating an ecosystem restoration plan in his district that’s backed by funds from a bill he opposed.

    But it now appears the phenomenon is not limited to the House. HuffPost reported late yesterday:

    Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) on Tuesday became the latest Republican lawmaker to seek credit for the bipartisan infrastructure overhaul he opposed in Congress. After joining U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials for a tour of the Herbert Hoover Dike, which stands to benefit from investments in the law dedicated to making the Everglades more resilient against climate change, Scott said he was “proud” to help secure “an unprecedented $1 billion for Everglades restoration, the largest single amount ever allocated by the federal government.”

    The report added that the Florida Republican’s office released photographs of Scott “shaking hands and posing with local officials,” as politicians are wont to do.

    What Scott didn’t mention is that the unprecedented resources for Everglades restoration came by way of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law by President Joe Biden.

    To be sure, the infrastructure package enjoyed at least some bipartisan backing, passing the Senate by an unexpectedly wide margin, 69 to 30.

    The trouble, of course, is that Florida’s Scott wasn’t one of the 69.

    […] Scott, in particular, complained that Republicans donors were “furious” with the GOP senators who had the audacity to support the popular and effective legislation last summer.

    […] For the White House’s part, a reporter asked Jen Psaki yesterday for her reaction to Republicans touting infrastructure projects that benefit their constituents, despite having opposed the bill.